jail bars

Sri Lanka has introduced jail terms and fines for those failing to follow health measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus, officials said Friday.

Those failing to wear face masks in public places or maintain social distancing could get a six-month jail term and a fine of 10,000 rupees (54 dollars).

“The laws are a shield for health officials and police to implement directives in containing the spread of the virus,” police deputy inspector general Ajith Rohana said.

He said shops and offices are now legally required to provide sanitizing facilities, maintain records of customers and restrict the movement of people in areas where the virus is spreading.

The tightened rules came as a second wave of the virus hit Sri Lanka in the past two weeks. Since October 3, 1,789 people have tested positive for the virus, while over 10,000 people have been moved to quarantine centres.

Nineteen areas close to the capital are under curfew. More than 1,500 workers at a garment factory in Minuwangoda, 40 kilometres north east of the capital Colombo, are among those who have tested positive.

Until the outbreak at the garment factory, Sri Lanka had been managing to keep the spread of the virus under control, with only 13 related deaths reported and only 3,500 coronavirus cases detected between January and early October.

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