Hundreds fined in Kirkuk and Duz Khurmatu for breaking Covid-19 second lockdown

Mobile checkpoint of security forces to impose lockdown instructions in Kirkuk on Feb. 21, 2021.


Hundreds of people in Kirkuk and Duz Khurmatu district of Salahaddin province were fined from $17 up to $3,500 for violation of lockdown imposed since Friday by national and local authorities excluding Northern provinces in Iraqi Kurdistan region.

Full lockdown is effective from Thursday 8 pm up to Monday 5 am for two weeks. Partial lockdown is imposed at night from 8 pm to 5 am every day. On the contrary, the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG has opened schools three days a week for classroom teaching and insists that infection cases are low compared to other parts of Iraq.

Colonel Mohammed Ismail, director of Kirkuk Traffic Police, told Kirkuknow "compared to last year lockdown, commitment is higher and few people come out for basic needs."

"compared to last year lockdown, commitment is higher and few people come out for basic needs."

Kirkuk traffic police and security forces have seized 31 vehicles, 119 driving licenses and vehicle registration cards. 170 drivers were fined each for IQD100,000 ($70), Ismail added.

Last week, Iraq’s high committee for national health and safety has decided to implement full curfew on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and night curfew from 8 pm to 5 am effective Feb. 18 to March 8 due to spike in Covid- 19 cases.

Kirkuk reporters of KirkukNow said on Saturday the streets are deserted and people are staying home and only health care and security staff are exempted from the curfew. Kirkuk crisis group decided to shut all Kirkuk checkpoints in face of other cities as part of the new plan to fight the late surge in Covid-19 cases.

Under new measures, schools will be shut up to March 4th. Alternatively, schools will offer away learning. The new restrictions include intercity travel ban, compulsory masking in and social distancing in the public. Penalty for violation is (17-70 USD). All mosques and worship houses will be closed except during prayer times.

Funerals, parties and social gatherings are banned. The penalty for violation of social gathering is 5M Iraqi Dinars ($3,500). The shutdown covers malls, cafes, gyms, swimming pools, and cinemas. Iraq traffic police proposed ($70) penalty for violation in number of passengers.

Traffic police officer questioning a driver about the reason of going out under second lockdown. Photo by Karwan Salihi

Hussein Ali, director of traffic police in Duz Khurmatu district of Salahaddin province, one of the disputed areas between Erbil and Baghdad, said, "a big number of people violated the lockdown and were fined, those skipped masks has to pay $17 and three restaurant owners each $3,500."

"Any one refuses paying the fine, will face other penalties like jail," he added.

"Any one refuses paying the fine, will face other penalties like jail," he added.

Iraqi ministry of health said that Iraq has registered more than 4,000 infections on Friday; half of it are of the new variant of Covid-19 virus. The ministry is monitoring the situation for two weeks, in case of growing infections, curfew might be extended.

Iraq has registered about 664,000 cases and 13,232 deaths since February 2020 up to today, daily statement by ministry of health about Covid-19 shows. Daily cases in Iraq have surged from 1.000 cases a day in January to more than quadruple on February 19, pushing the government to take tougher security and health measures.

Mohammed Akbar, director of Duz Khurmatu health, said "over 50 people have violated the curfew instructions and were fined. They have to pledge not to violate the lockdown rules again."

Iraqi minister of health announced identification of new variant of Covid-19 virus in a press conference on Monday.

Kirkuk local officials confirmed that infection cases have dropped and the commitment is high. "Corona virus pandemic is under control and the infections has reduced," Nabil Hamdi Boushnaq, director general of Kirkuk health directorate. "Only 25 cases are hospitalized and no infection of the new variant recorded."  

Ordinary life has been resumed in Iraq since last April as authorities eased restrictions except closure of schools. Pupils used to attend classrooms once a day and schools were offering away learning.

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