Zimbabweans Face Jail for Failure to Wear Masks

Harare — ZIMBABWE is to jail members of the public that do not comply with new health regulations that make it compulsory to wear masks in public places.

The regulations are the latest steps by the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Regulations gazetted this past weekend are effective immediately.

Advocate Prince Machaya, the Attorney-General, said subsequently, it was now illegal to be in public places without a mask.

Speaking to journalists at the State House in the capital Harare, he disclosed violators will be liable to pay an undisclosed fine or to imprisonment to a period that does not exceed a year.

"So, it's fairly serious," the top judge warned.

"Members of the public should be aware that they need to have their masks on whenever they are in a public place so that they are not arrested for committing a crime," Machaya warned.

Zimbabwe has already arrested some 20 000 people for violating a lockdown president Mnangagwa announced at the end of March.

Almost all violators have been released after paying admission of guilt fines.

Dr Obadiah Moyo, the Minister of Health and Child Care, urged supermarkets and other retailers not to serve people who do not don masks.

"We must also avoid a situation where supermarkets end up with hundreds of people inside. They have to control the people who come in," Dr Moyo said.

Zimbabwe has confirmed four deaths from 34 cases of COVID-19.

The government has extended the lockdown by two weeks, to May 17.

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