Coronavirus-Wracked Qatar Sets $55,000 Fine, Jail Term for Failing to Wear Face Masks
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, dozens of countries have made it mandatory for citizens to wear face masks in public. Many have set fines as part of their effort to ensure compliance, some relatively small but others very large depending on the location and the circumstances.
In Israel, those who are found without a face mask in public can be fined 200 shekels, the equivalent of about $57, although it does not apply to those engaging in exercise. Overall, the country has been relatively successful in containing the virus and has started reopening its economy.
Other countries are still struggling to bring the outbreak under control, and are far from the point of edging back to normality.
Qatar may have set a new standard in terms of trying to make sure that everyone in the country wears face masks outside.
On May 14, the country's Interior Ministry said in a Twitter post that, effective May 17, not only is wearing masks mandatory for anyone going outside, but those who do not comply face a fine of up to 200,000 riyals - about $55,000 - or a jail term of up to three years. Only those driving a vehicle without any passengers are exempted, the ministry said.
The measures come as the Persian Gulf state tries to deal with one of the world's highest per capita number of COVID-19 cases, with an increase of over 1,500 reported on May 16 alone, and a total of more than 30,000 among its population of about 2.7 million, according to reports on May 17.