DOHA: Kuwait and Qatar would start jailing people or fining them thousands of dollars for failing to wear a facemask to combat the novel coronavirus.
Kuwait’s health ministry said anyone caught without a mask could face up to three months in prison, while Qatar state TV reported the maximum penalty there would be three years. In Kuwait the maximum fine stood at 5,000 dinars ($16,200) and in Qatar 200,000 riyals ($55,000).
The six Gulf states have reported a total of more than 137,400 infections with 693 deaths from the virus. Cases in the region were initially linked to travel but later saw a spread among low-income migrant workers in cramped quarters.
Qatar, a nation of some 2.8 million, has an infection count at above 32,600, with 15 deaths. The cabinet mandated the wearing of face masks “upon leaving the house for any reason” except when “alone while driving a vehicle”, the Qatar News Agency reported last week.
Saudi Arabia, with a population of around 30 million people, has the largest count at more than 54,700 cases with 312 deaths.
A recent surge in infections has prompted the Saudi government to re-impose a 24-hour curfew across the entire country during the five-day Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of May in a bid to contain the resurgent epidemic.
A total curfew will be imposed in all cities and regions across the Kingdom from 23 May until 27 May, the Saudi Ministry of Interior. said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency last week.
The United Arab Emirates has the second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths among the six states at 220. It has reported more than 23,350 cases.