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(LifeSiteNews) — United Arab Emirates officials are reminding residents that spreading “false information” about COVID and criticizing lockdowns is punishable by jail time and fines.

“The Federal Emergency Crisis and Disasters Prosecution has warned public not to spread rumours or false information about the preventive measures adopted by authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 and not to flout them,” the country’s Emirates News Agency said in a January 10 statement.

Authorities said that people have been circulating “photos and videos on social media spreading information from some COVID-19 patients” on the government’s Al-Hosn virus app “accompanied by comments and songs mocking the precautionary measures and calling on others to flout them.”

This social media activity “[threatens] the national efforts to address the pandemic.”

“Federal prosecutors have said that social media users could be punished under new laws, which would involve at least two years’ jail time and 200,000 AED ($54,450) fines for sharing misinformation concerning the pandemic,” Middle East Eye reported.

Restrictions include mask mandates in public places and reduced capacity for restaurants and bars, according to travel website Skyscanner.

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