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Refusing to wear a mask in Ethiopia could cost you two years in jail

October 23, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

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.

(CNN)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.

The health ministry has recorded 91,118 Covid-19 cases, 1,384 deaths and 44,506 recoveries so far.

At least 79 people died of Covid-19 in the past week, the health ministry said, but less than 2% of deaths are formally recorded.

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.

But many African leaders are urging vigilance, concerned that any surge in cases could overwhelm rickety public health systems.

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