Corona Virus World

From coffins to push-ups: The inventive ways countries are punishing coronavirus rule breakers

Breaking local coronavirus restrictions in Indonesia could see you forced to spend time in a coffin reconsidering your actions.

Authorities around the world have resorted to harsh, and sometimes bizarre, punishments to encourage residents to follow local rules aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus.

Most recently, photos were circulated showing people who refused to wear masks digging graves for COVID-19 victims and being forced to lay in coffins in Indonesia.

But the island nation is far from the only country attempting to use strange and unusual punishments to get the message about social distancing, masks, and lockdowns to sink in. 

Here are some of the most extreme examples.


Australian’s northern neighbour has one of the longest lists of strange coronavirus punishments.

Last week, eight Indonesians caught not wearing a face mask were forced to dig graves for people who had died of COVID-19 in the East Java district of Cerme.

Others found breaking the law were put to work cleaning public spaces or told to do push-ups in lieu of paying a 150,000 rupiah ($14) fine, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, Jakarta residents caught without masks were previously forced to lay in a fake coffin for several minutes as an alternative to paying a fine or completing community service.

Authorities have even resorted to repurposing abandoned “haunted houses” as jails to detain coronavirus offenders in the Sragen area of Central Java, while rule-breakers in the western Bengkulu province have been photographed wearing placards featuring promises to wear masks in the future.

In the conservative Aceh province those flouting restrictions have instead been forced to read verses of the Koran. 

Indonesia has deployed around 340,000 troops across the country to oversee the enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions. 


In a move straight out of a school teacher’s playbook, 10 foreign tourists in India were punished for going a walk during a nation-wide lock-down in April by having to write “I’m sorry” 500 times.

The incident in the northern Indian town of Rishikesh was filmed and shared on social media by local journalists. “Today I am giving you a light punishment,” one officer can be heard saying in the video.

Other video circulated on social media also appeared to show baton-wielding police officers forcing people to do frog jumps, squats, and push-ups as a result of breaching lockdown.

In another video from March, a police officer is seen writing “I have violated lockdown restrictions, stay away from me” on a labourer’s forehead. 


Filipino authorities have been accused of locking people who have breached COVID-19 curfews in dog cages and forcing them to sit for hours in harsh sunlight.

Advocacy group Human Rights Watch in April also said eight children had their hair forcibly cut for breaking curfew, while two others were locked in a coffin.

The group has also accused authorities of punishing three LGBTIQ+ people who were outside after curfew by forcing them to kiss, dance, and do push-ups while live-streamed to social media.


Local television station NPY shared a video appearing to show a man forced to do star jumps while an officer held a taser nearby. 

According to The Guardian, the country’s interior minister Euclides Acevedo praised the officers behind the videos, stating: “I don’t have the same creativity as those that are making the videos”.