PETALING JAYA, Sept 15 — In a bid to get more locals to wear face masks, Indonesian authorities have come up with another unorthodox penalty for stubborn anti-maskers.
Eight people from Cerme in the Gresik regency of East Java were ordered to dig graves for Covid-19 victims as punishment for not wearing face masks in public last week.
Cerme district head Suyono said he picked this punishment because local cemeteries are currently short-handed and he felt this would be the perfect way to teach local anti-maskers in the district a lesson.
“There are only three available gravediggers at the moment. So, I thought I might as well put these people to work with them. Hopefully, this can create a deterrent effect against violations,” Suyono told local news portal Tribun News.
He added that the violators were instructed to help dig graves at a public cemetery in the Ngabetan village and were not involved in the burials of the Covid-19 victim.
Two were assigned to assist gravediggers, with one person tasked with digging the grave and the other made to lay wooden boards in the hole to support the corpse.
Public health officials then handled bodies with full personal protective equipment to prevent any risk of exposure to the virus.
Suyono also said that the village administration in Cerme will be strengthening safety and health protocols as the number of positive Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Cerme, with many in the province refusing to wear face masks.
This isn’t the first unusual punishment in the country for Covid-19 related offences as Indonesian authorities have meted out a number of bizarre punishments to those who fail to wear a face mask in public.
Since the national law requiring masks to be worn came into effect in early April, local authorities have handed out punishments from doing push-ups, counting to 100 and honouring the national flag to lying down in a coffin and praying for Covid-19 victims at cemeteries in the middle of the night.
Based on the Regent Law No. 22/2020, residents who violate the protocols are subject to fines or community service as punishment.
Yesterday, Indonesia saw its Covid-19 case count rise by 3,141 cases, taking its total number of cases since the pandemic began up to 221,523 with the death toll at 8,841.