Eight people in Gresik regency, East Java, were ordered by local authorities to dig graves for those who have died of COVID-19 as punishment for not wearing face masks in public.
Cerme district head, Suyono, said that he punished residents who did not wear face masks by making them dig graves at a public cemetery in Ngabetan village.
“There are only three available gravediggers at the moment, so I thought I might as well put these people to work with them,” said Suyono as quoted by tribunnews.com on Wednesday, adding that local authorities made sure the health protocol violators did not participate in the burials.
To assist the gravediggers, Suyono assigned two people to each grave. One is tasked with digging the grave, while the other lays wooden boards inside the hole to support the corpse.
“Hopefully this can create a deterrent effect against violations,” Suyono said.
He also said the number of COVID-19 cases was continuing to increase in Cerme, prompting the village administration to strengthen protocols in the village.
Based on the Regent Law No. 22/2020, residents who violate the protocols are subject to fines or community service as punishment.
Separately, Cerme Police chief Adj. Pol. Comm. Moh. Nur Amin said the police would cooperate with the military to enforce the protocols, such as by dispersing public gatherings.
“We urge the public to wear face masks in accordance with the COVID-19 health protocols,” he said. (dpk)