Ethiopia can jail people for up to two years if they deliberately violate restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, the attorney general’s office said, amid concern that citizens are becoming lax after a state of emergency was lifted.
The restrictions prohibit shaking hands, not wearing a mask in a public place, seating more than three people at a table or not keeping “two adult steps” — around six feet — apart.
“Now it is as if COVID is no longer there, the public is not taking care,” Health Minister Lia Tadesse tweeted on Thursday.
“This will cause a possible increase in the spread of the disease and might be a threat to the nation.”
Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation and a regional powerhouse, declared a state of emergency in April to curb the spread of the pandemic. It was lifted in September.
The health ministry has recorded 91,118 Covid-19 cases, 1,384 deaths and 44,506 recoveries so far.
The new law permits fines and imprisonment for up to two years for anyone who breaks the restrictions, the attorney general’s office said in a statement on its Facebook page on Wednesday.