Madagascar police forced citizens caught outside without a coronavirus face mask to sweep pavements on Monday, law enforcement officials said.
President Andry Rajoelina has made it compulsory to wear face coverings outdoors in the capital Antananarivo, as well as in the cities of Fianarantsoa and Toamasina, to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The new rule, which came into force on Monday, was announced on 20 April alongside the gradual lifting of lockdown measures in the three main cities.
Authorities warned that citizens leaving the house without face masks would face community service.
“Seventy percent of people on the street respected the rule… because they are scared of having to sweep pavements,” the head of anti-coronavirus operations, general Elak Olivier Andriakaja, said on state television.
“Measures were taken before the sanctions fell into place to raise awareness and distribute mouth covers,” Andriakaja added.
“I think that’s enough and that sanctions must now be applied.”
Around 500 people in Antananarivo and Fianarantsoa were penalised on Monday, said police deputy head Christian Rakotobe.
Antananarivo commissioner Hector Razafindrazaka said 25 people were sentenced on the spot and forced to sweep the capital’s dusty streets.
Images of the embarrassed-looking offenders were widely circulated on social media.
To date the Indian Ocean island-nation has detected 128 cases of coronavirus. No fatalities have been recorded so far and 75 patients have recovered.