Coronavirus: Qatar requires face masks, violators face jail and up to $55,000 fine

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Qatar has made wearing a face mask compulsory for everyone who steps outside their home, with violators facing jail time and fines of up to $55,000.

The move comes as the number of reported novel coronavirus cases in the Gulf country jumped by another 1,733 on Thursday.

Cabinet mandated the wearing of face masks “upon leaving the house for any reason” except when “alone while driving a vehicle,” the Qatar News Agency reported Thursday.

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The decision on Wednesday is effective from Sunday “until further notice,” with penalties of up to three years in jail and fines of up to 200,000 riyals ($55,000), it added.

Qatar, with a population of 2.75 million people, has seen a relatively high number of novel coronavirus cases, with more than 28,000 people testing positive.

But its death rate remains low, with just 14 fatalities - an outcome experts say is down to a young population and mandatory health checks for its vast foreign workforce.

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Bars, restaurants, cinemas and mosques have been shut to contain the spread of the virus.

But construction projects, including World Cup 2022 stadiums, have continued with new rules to encourage social distancing.

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