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You can land in jail for not wearing a mask in Qatar

Qatar has launched the world’s toughest penalties of up to three years in jail for failing to wear masks in public, as it battles one of the world’s highest coronavirus infection rates.

More than 30,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the tiny Gulf country – 1.1 percent of the 2.75 million population – although just 15 people have died.

Only the micro-states of San Marino and the Vatican had higher per-capita infection rates, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Violators of Qatar’s new rules will face up to three years in jail and fines of as much as $55,000.

Drivers alone in their vehicles are exempt from the requirement, but several expats said that police were stopping cars at checkpoints to warn them of the new rules before they came into force.

Most of the customers who gathered outside money lenders on Doha’s Banks Street on Sunday wore masks, while those that didn’t produced a face covering when asked.

‘From today it’s very strict,’ said Majeed, a taxi driver waiting for business in the busy pedestrian area, who wore a black neoprene mask.

Wearing a mask is currently mandatory in around 50 countries, although scientists are divided on their effectiveness.

Qatari authorities have warned that gatherings during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan may have increased infections.

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