Muscat: People violating the rules of the lockdown could face fines of up to OMR3,500, as well as possible jail time.
In an interview to Times TV, Major Mudhar Al Mazrui of the Royal Oman Police, said, “Regarding the fines, they start from OMR100 for not wearing masks, which might reach up to OMR3,500 for not respecting the rules and regulations.
This can be done if your case goes to the courts, and the judge can double the punishment as well. You can also go to jail, as well, if your cases reach the courts. We are very serious this time in applying all the rules and punishments.”
Oman’s Public Prosecution, in collaboration with other government authorities, has meted out punishments to those found guilty of violating the rules of the movement ban.
On Friday, judicial courts in Al Buraimi and South Sharqiyah ruled that nine people who’d flouted these regulations had to pay a fine of OMR1,000.
Omanis found breaking them were also sentenced to six months in jail, while deportation orders were issued for the expatriates involved.
In keeping with the rules of the Supreme Committee to deal with COVID-19, their names and pictures were also released in local media publications.
Al Mazrui added that the ROP needed to bring in this lockdown, after many in the country were found violating the regulations enacted to stop the spread of the coronavirus in Oman.
“We could have avoided this, if everybody had followed the rules, but according to the statistics we have seen from the Ministry of Health, we were really in need of introducing more curbs, in order to decrease the number of cases, as well to give a break to those working in the medical sector.”
Under the rules of the lockdown, emergency services and goods carriers can still move outdoors between 8 pm and 5 am. Provisions have also been made to those who have to travel to the airport to catch a flight, or receive passengers, as well as those who urgently need to go to hospital.
The major explained, “What they have to do is to keep a copy of the ticket with them – either a soft copy or a hard copy – and that has to be with them all the time. One person is allowed to be with the passenger in the vehicle.”
“It does happen that some people might need to go to the hospital in case of an emergency, so what they have to do is call the emergency number – 9999 – and inform them that they will be travelling to the hospital, and tell them the plate number,” he added.
Dr Sofiya Al Mughery, a medical officer at the Ministry of Health, agreed with what the ROP said in terms of providing a breather to hospitals in the country dealing with a large caseload of COVID-19 patients.
“All this was done to reduce the number of cases,” she said.
“The number of admissions to hospitals had really overloaded them, especially when we talk about the ICUs. The burden was very, very high on them, and the lockdown was imposed to control the pandemic by reducing the spread of the virus through infection, and to prevent the healthcare system from collapsing.
“We all knew that the dramatic rise in the numbers of confirmed cases we have of COVID, as well as the death toll, grew due to the pandemic. As a medical professional, I think the decision taken to impose a lockdown is very timely and very precise,” added Al Mughery.
“What is equally important is the period after these two weeks. It is important that people continue to adhere to the safety and preventive measures that are required. We hope the numbers will go down, as we see that the gatherings are mostly in the evenings.”
It was a sentiment agreed upon by Shahswar Al Balushi, the head of the Labour Labs under Oman’s Tanfeedh programme for economic expansion. He asked people to respect the laws so that such measures would not need to be taken.
“We wouldn’t have had to have this lockdown, if everyone had tried their best to comply with the rules for keeping distance, keeping safe, wearing masks, and washing hands,” he said. “I think we realise that when we had the last lockdown and things were getting under control, we were gradually able to open up our economy.
Al Balushi added, “This is very unfortunate. We could have avoided this, if everyone in the society had complied with it. I understand that some people were frustrated with the measures of the lockdown in the past, but I don’t think we must have another one, if everyone complies with the rules.”