They were arrested in separate operations conducted on Thursday, January 21, in the five districts of Ngoma, Kirehe, Rwamagana, Nyagatare and Bugesera.
According to Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Hamdun Twizeyimana, the Police spokesperson for the Eastern Province, those arrested include 11 bars owners, who were found operating the prohibited business. Others were their customers.
Bars are among the businesses that are still closed in this period as part of the government efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The violations were reported by residents, who saw these bars operating and people inside drinking. It was easily for one infected person to infect everyone who was inside because besides operating the prohibited business, there was no other prevention measures; no washing hands, they had no masks, they were close to each other and even some of them were sharing drinks," said CIP Twizeyimana.
"We are in a situation when COVID-19 cases and related fatalities continue to spike up and we are seeing positive cases in all parts of the country. A single violation can be fatal to many," he added.
The violators, he said, will face varied penalties but added that "no one should be penalised for putting their lives and those of others at risk. Safety and good health should be the priority."
Out of 310 COVID-19 positive cases reported by the Ministry of Health on January 21, 41 were from Ngoma, nine in Nyagatare and six in Kirehe.
On January 20, eleven cases were registered in Ngoma and four in Nyagatare.
At least 79 positive cases were also recorded in Ngoma on January 19, while 11 others came from Nyagatare, three in Kirehe and two in Rwamagana.
As of January 21, Rwanda had registered 12170 positive cases of COVID-19, with 7973 recoveries and 162 related fatalities.
Meanwhile, CIP Twizeyimana said that on the same day of January 21, two vehicles, 41 motorcycles and 84 bicycles were also impounded in the Eastern Province after owners were caught during prohibited movements hours.
Apart from City of Kigali, which is under lockdown, movements in the rest parts of the country are prohibited between 6pm and 4am. Movements beyond districts are also prohibited.
CIP Twizeyimana said that the Police, local authorities, youth volunteers and other community policing groups are working together in the region to implement the directives through education and enforcement on wearing face mask, washing hands and social gathering especially in business centres as well as preventing social gatherings, movements beyond 6pm or beyond districts.