Many countries are utilizing emergency laws and the military to enforce draconian measures against COVID-19 (Jakob Gruber, AFP)

New regulations in Singapore threatening prison time for anyone found violating “social distancing” protocols are testimony to the harsh reality being implemented to fight the coronavirus.

Globally, there are over half a million cases with 25,000 dead.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Health in Singapore, those who fail to maintain a distance of one meter from other people in “non-transient” public interactions can be fined up to 10,000 Singapore dollars and even risk a six-month jail sentence.

The strict measures come as nations around the world adopt similarly provisions to stop the spread of the virus.

In Italy, one of the worst affected countries, authorities have increased efforts to stop quarantine violators. The country deployed more than 100 soldiers tasked with enforcing lockdown measures in Lombardy, the hardest-hit region in Europe. More than 90,000 Italians have been fined up to €3,000 and citizens can also end up behind bars for three months for violating quarantine protocols.

Spain has also been hit badly and might have the most stringent rules in Europe. Since announcing a countrywide lockdown in mid-March, residents have only been allowed outside for essentials such as grocery shopping or medical needs. The provisions, originally scheduled to be lifted after fifteen days, have been extended until April 11th. Those found in violation of the rules face astronomical fines, with repeat offenders facing the possibility of 3-18 months in prison. More than 30,000 fines have been issued and 900 arrests made for disobedience, according to reports.

In the country that boasts to be “the mother of liberty”, police in the UK have been given the power to forcefully make people return to their homes as part of a nationwide lockdown. Those without a “reasonable excuse” to be outside could be hit with a £60 ($73) fine. A second offense could cost double.

The measures have already faced criticism, with Derbyshire police in England causing uproar on social media for using drones to “shame” people allegedly violating social distancing rules.

Of course, measures are needed to curtail the virus and halt its spread, but Canadians must be wondering when such regulations go too far in the face of freedom and when such measures could be coming to the Great White North.
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