Coronavirus: Heightened police patrols to ensure social distancing in Jakarta

Benches are marked to remind people to practise social distancing to stop the spread of the coronavirus, at the check-in lounge of an almost-empty Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Indonesia, on Tuesday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Benches are marked to remind people to practise social distancing to stop the spread of the coronavirus, at the check-in lounge of an almost-empty Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Indonesia, on Tuesday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The large-scale social distancing measures to be implemented in Jakarta from tomorrow will be binding for its residents, with gatherings limited to five people and police patrols ramped up to ensure compliance by the public.

The measures include the closure of all schools, most workplaces and public facilities ranging from sports centres to museums; the shortening of operation hours for all public transport services, including the MRT, commuter rail and buses to 12 hours a day; and restrictions on social, cultural and religious activities.

However, eight sectors providing essential services, including health, food, energy, logistics and finance, will remain in operation.

The measures, most of which were already put in place after the capital declared a state of emergency on March 20, will now be mandatory for Jakarta residents, with penalties for defiance.

The police and military personnel will ensure that the public follow the restrictions, and will intensify patrols across the city, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said at a press conference on Tuesday evening. "The provincial government, military and police will implement all measures strictly. We won't be negligent and will not let events run if transmission potentially occurs," he said.

He added that the provincial government will distribute social aid, including staple food, to the poor and vulnerable in the population. Officials are familiarising city residents with the new measures, such as by putting up banners.

Jakarta's police chief, Inspector-General Nana Sudjana, said at a press conference yesterday that the police will take action against people attending any gatherings after the large-scale distancing policy takes effect, classifying such actions as "light crime".

However, he underlined that the police favoured a persuasive approach when handling non-compliant residents, with enforcement actions a last resort.

"If we have warned (people in a gathering) thrice, but the concerned people continue, law enforcement will be applied on them," he said.

 
 
 
 

Jakarta, which accounts for around half of the country's deaths and infections due to the coronavirus, was the first province to be granted approval to employ these measures by the central government.

The city of around 10 million people has so far been the area worst-stricken by the virus, with a death toll of 114 and infections of 1,470. Yesterday, the capital saw eight more deaths and 101 new cases.

Indonesia reported 218 fresh infections yesterday, taking the total number of cases in the country to 2,956. The world's fourth-most populous nation also saw another 19 deaths within 24 hours, resulting in 240 fatalities overall.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2020, with the headline 'Heightened police patrols to ensure social distancing in Jakarta'. Print Edition | Subscribe