JAKARTA - Indonesia’s populous islands of Java and Bali will face emergency measures from Saturday (July 3) that will shut down most activities and non-essential public places, as the government scrambles to contain an unprecedented spike in cases in recent weeks.
The restrictions, which will be in place till July 20, will cover regencies and cities across Java, where 60 per cent of the country’s 270 million population live, as well as Bali which has over 4 million people.
All non-essential workers must work from home, while up to 50 per cent of those working in essential sectors including banks, stock market and hotels must be on staggered shifts.
Malls, places of worship and parks will be shut, while restaurants can only provide takeaway and delivery services. Grocery stores and supermarkets must close by 8pm daily, and limit customers to 50 per cent.
Wedding receptions will be limited to 30 guests at most, and no eating will be allowed.
Long-distance public transport services will be allowed to operate at up to 70 per cent capacity with strict health protocols in place.
Commuters on intercity and inter-province bus and trains must produce vaccination cards and must have tested negative for Covid-19. Air travellers will also be subjected to stricter measures.
Workers in the “critical sector”, however, will be exempted from the measures. The newly-created category covers workers in the sectors of energy, logistics, food and beverages, among others.
Indonesia has the most coronavirus cases in South-east Asia, exceeding 2.2 million, including 58,995 deaths. Java and Bali have about 1.52 million cases, or 70 per cent of the total nationwide.
The country saw record highs of 24,836 daily new cases and 504 deaths on Thursday (July1). It has recorded over 20,000 cases daily for the past six days, surpassing all-time highs in January.
President Joko Widodo on Thursday announced the emergency measures, known as the Pemberlakuan Pembatasan Kegiatan Masyarakat (PPKM) Darurat, or emergency public activity restrictions.
“This PPKM Emergency will have activity restrictions that are stricter than what we have had so far,” he said in an Internet broadcast. “The government will deploy all resources to curb the spread of Covid-19.”
Health authorities have blamed the latest surge on the virulent Delta strain, first identified in India, and widespread travel by Indonesians during the Hari Raya holidays in May.
The fragile healthcare system in Indonesia is struggling to cope and healthcare workers have complained of fatigue and burnout.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin encouraged the use of telemedicine apps, roping in tech start-ups such as Halodoc. Through the apps, doctors may prescribe medication for self-isolation patients and make a call when any of them needs to be admitted to hospital.
He added that hospital admission will only be for those showing shortness of breath.
Domestic Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian reminded people to comply with the new rules, saying the authorities have legal options to slap errant citizens with heavy penalties.
Tighter rules in hard-hit areas
• Up to 50 per cent of essential workers to work from office, with strict health protocols.
• All non-essential workers will work from home.
• Only online teaching and learning allowed.
• Masks are mandatory outside the home. Face shields without masks are not allowed.
• Grocery stores and supermarkets must follow a daily 8pm curfew, and limit visitors to 50 per cent.
• No dining in at restaurants, cafes and street stalls. Takeaways and delivery services allowed.
• Places of worship, tourist spots, public parks, and cultural and sports centres will close temporarily.
• Long-distance public transport services will be allowed to operate at up to 70 per cent capacity with strict health protocols in place.
• Commuters on intercity and inter-province buses and trains must carry vaccine cards showing that they have had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and a negative antigen rapid test (ART) result.
• Air travellers will also be subjected to stricter measures, and they must also produce negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test results.
• Wedding receptions will be limited to 30 guests at most, and no eating will be allowed. Food brought home by guests must be packed in containers with lids.