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. 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. 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 disease peaked there toward the end of August, but it’s difficult to know the true picture because testing has been also scaled back due to limited resources. 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.