Residents who refused to wear masks were ordered to dig graves for COVID-19 victims in East Java, Indonesia.
The punishment, which reduced the workload of actual gravediggers, took place at the public cemetery in Ngabetan, a rural village in Cerme district, Gresik regency last Wednesday.
A total of eight residents were forced to work in pairs for each grave. One was assigned to do the digging, while the other was tasked to lay wooden boards to support the corpse.
“There are only three available gravediggers at the moment, so I thought I might as well put these people to work with them,” said Cerme district head Suyono, according to Tribun News. “Hopefully this can create a deterrent effect against violations.”
All eight residents were reportedly caught without masks in public. Under Regent Law No. 22/2020, residents who violate COVID-19 safety protocols can be fined or punished with community service, according to The Jakarta Post.
However, the violators were only directed to prepare the graves. They were never in contact with corpses, which health officials handle using full-body protective equipment.
On Tuesday, Indonesia reported 3,507 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total tally to 225,030, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, the number of deaths increased by 124 to 8,965, the highest in Southeast Asia.
A day earlier, Jakarta returned to quarantine measures after recording its highest one-day rise of coronavirus cases. This requires all infected persons to isolate themselves at official facilities, according to Jakarta Globe.