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You will be arrested from today should you be found in public without a face mask.

That is the message to Kenyans who have been taking lightly the requirement of wearing masks as one of the precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai Tuesday said the grace period for adjusting to the regulations given by President Kenyatta has expired and that anyone violating them will be taken to court.

During the weekend, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe gazetted a list of hefty penalties against violators.

“Users of public or private transport and public transport operators shall wear proper masks that must cover the mouth and nose. They should also maintain a physical distance of not less than a metre,” Mr Kagwe said in the Kenya Gazette Supplement No 41.

“A person who commits an offence under these rules shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh20,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or both.”

Yesterday, the Kenya Police Service said the public has been given enough time to acquire masks and that it will begin enforcing the rules.

“Police officers have been asking Kenyans to wear face masks. We’re going to take another step to make sure the law if followed,” the IG said after receiving a donation of 200,000 masks for the service from the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and Ahadi Kenya.

“But before police enforce the regulations, I appeal to Kenyans to take the initiative to wear the masks. It is no longer an advisory …as the rules have been gazetted.”

The use of masks has been credited for helping to slow down the spread of the virus in Japan, South Korea, China and parts of Europe.

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