Kuwait threatens jail for flouting face mask order

Kuwait will now begin jailing those who leave their homes without a face mask.

al-monitor Citizens wearing masks to prevent against the novel coronavirus pandemic arrive at Al-Mubarakiya bazaar for shopping ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, in Kuwait City, Kuwait, April 23, 2020. Photo by Jaber Abdulkhaleg/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

May 18, 2020

As Kuwait grapples with a spike in cases of the novel coronavirus, the government is threatening those who fail to wear masks in public with thousands of dollars in fines and months in prison. 

Under new regulations, violators of the country’s mask requirement may be forced to pay up to 5,000 dinars ($16,200) or spend as many as three months in prison, said the Kuwaiti Health Ministry. 

Kuwaiti health authorities confirmed six more deaths from the virus Monday, bringing the death toll to 118 and the total number of documented infections to 15,691. The country of roughly four million has so far conducted more than 248,000 tests, said Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Abdullah Al Sanad.

On Saturday, Kuwait unveiled its first drive-through testing center at the Kuwait International Airport, which according to the Health Ministry will randomly choose 180 people to test per day. 

Following a surge in new cases, the Kuwaiti government announced earlier this month it would impose a full curfew to last through May 30. Under the 20-day lockdown order, residents are only allowed to leave their homes to purchase essentials and exercise between the hours of 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. 

In mid-March, Kuwait paused all commercial flights and closed schools through August. Grocery shopping is allowed by appointment only, and residents are only permitted to buy 30 items per week. 

Elsewhere in the Gulf, Qatar has mandated mask use “upon leaving the house for any reason” except when driving a car alone. Violators face up to three years in prison and fines of 200,000 riyals ($55,000). 

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