Eight people in Indonesia who refused to wear masks in public were ordered by a local official to dig graves for COVID-19 victims.

As Indonesia faces an uptick of COVID-19 cases, leaders in Cerme, a district located in East Java, established stricter enforcement of social distancing and mask-wearing policies.

For the eight people who violated the local mask mandate, that meant digging graves. The district’s leader, identified by Indonesian news site Tribun News as Suyono, proposed the punishment due to a lack of gravediggers in the area.

“There are only three available gravediggers at the moment, so I thought I might as well put these people to work with them,” he told Tribun News. “Hopefully, this can create a deterrent effect against violations,” he said.

Two people are assigned to each grave — one to dig the grave, and another to insert wooden boards in the holes to support the bodies. Cremation and embalming are not permitted in Indonesia, and bodies are traditionally buried without a casket.

The non-mask wearers were not permitted to take part in any traditional ceremonies, reported the Jakarta Post.Per SBS News in Australia, they were also forbidden from touching the corpses. Instead, local officials wearing protective equipment were to bury the bodies.

Indonesia has the highest current coronavirus death toll in Southeast Asia, with nearly 8,900 deaths as of Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins University. The country has required people to wear masks since April.

Contributing: The Associated Press.

Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote. 


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