Coronavirus: Jakarta extends social distancing measures till May 22

People keep social distance as they queue for free lunch at a slum area in Jakarta, on April 22, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA - Tough social distancing measures will be extended until May 22, two days before Hari Raya Aidilfitri, as the government vowed to take action against rule-breakers amid a continual rise in infections in the capital.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said on Wednesday (April 22) that many residents had violated rules in the last two weeks, such as gathering in crowds, while numerous companies remained in operation.

Distancing rules stipulate people can go out only if they have to and must wear masks, restaurants can only do takeaways, and all businesses except essential services must close.

"Under these conditions, the Jakarta government, after hearing views from communicable disease experts and discussions held by the health agency, decided to extend our large social distancing measures for 28 days," he said in a press conference.

He added: "We will not warn violators anymore, but will take measures against them."

Those breaching rules will face a fine of up to 100 million rupiah (S$9,000) and up to one year in prison, according to the 2018 Health Quarantine Law.

As Muslim residents brace for fasting in the month of Ramadan, the governor called for fasts to be broken at home with family. He also asked Muslims to perform evening prayer, known as Tarawih, at home, instead of at the mosque.

Indonesia reported 283 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections to 7,418.

The world's fourth-most populous nation of nearly 270 million people also saw 19 more deaths, taking the overall toll to 635, the highest in South-east Asia.

Jakarta made up nearly half of the infections and deaths in the country, registering 3,383 and 301 respectively.

Speaking in a separate press conference on the same day, National Police spokesman high commissioner Asep Adi Saputra said about 175,000 military personnel, police and public order officers will be deployed to ensure security across the country ahead of and after Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Personnel will also enact the government's ban on the annual massive exodus for festivities, which usually involves some 20 million people from Greater Jakarta alone. They will monitor people leaving Jakarta from 19 checkpoints.

The security operation will be carried out from April 24 until seven days after Hari Raya on May 24.

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