Authorities in Indonesia are dishing out unusual punishments to those who violate its mandatory mask policy. Some who have refused to wear facial coverings and masks in public were forced to dig the graves of those who have died from the coronavirus.

According to authorities, the punishment hopefully generates empathy - and can serve as an example for others to do their part in mitigating the spread of the disease. Three men and five minors were the first to be sentenced to the punishment in the Cerme district of Gresik Regency in East Java.

In the district and other cities, authorities have given violators an option to either pay a 150,000 rupiah ($10) fine or be subjected to what officials call "social punishment." Earlier this month, a violator in the capital Jakarta was forced to lie down inside an open coffin for several hours in public. Other punishments include cleaning public parks and pushups.

In addition to grave digging, violators in the country have also had to sit in a hearse containing a casket and asked to reflect on their actions. - WAVY TV 10 (@WAVY_News) Sept. 16, 2020

Like elsewhere in Asia, mask-wearing is mandatory in all public areas in Indonesia. While most adhere to the new policies there is a minority that has been vocal in its refusal to follow social distancing and pandemic-prevention rules. 

Experts said a lack of proper enforcement in Indonesia has resulted in a higher number of positive cases. The virus has so far infected more than 230,000 people and killed nearly 9,100. Indonesia's Health Ministry said more than 160,000 patients had recovered. Indonesia has the second-highest number of positive coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia behind the Philippines.

Indonesia officials initially passed a law in July that made it mandatory for everyone to wear masks or face coverings in public places. Local officials were given the freedom to determine punishment for noncompliance. Nationwide, the government had asked the National Armed Forces, National Police and local law enforcement to make sure the law is followed.