Maldives Police Services say individuals seen without wearing a mask in public would be penalized starting today as authorities look to strengthen the measures taken against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police said it has started to enforce the order by Health Protection Agency HPA to take action against anyone caught outside without a facemask.

Authorities have said that those without a mask would be fined MVR 1000 for the offense.

The decision to make facemasks mandatory was made at Thursday’s meeting of the National Taskforce on COVID-19.

This came as the country struggles with a rise in COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks.

Yesterday alone 74 people tested positive for COVID-19 with 4 cases reported in the islands.

The latest update by HPA shows that 3793 people have now tested positive for COVID-19 with over 1000 active cases of the pandemic in the country now. HPA also said that 2607 individuals have now recovered from the illness while 65 remain hospitalized due to the pandemic.

The Maldives has reported 16 COVID-19 deaths in the country including 11 Maldivians and 5 foreigners.