Partial lockdown in Java, Bali as Covid-19 infections surge

A healthcare worker taking a swab sample during mass testing at a school in Jakarta, Indonesia, on July 2, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Grocery stores and supermarkets on Indonesia's Java and Bali islands on Saturday (July 3) began to limit customers to half of their capacity and close by 8pm, as a partial lockdown was imposed to contain the highly infectious Delta variant of Covid-19 that has sent infections and deaths to all- time highs.

Public places like shopping malls, parks and places of worship were closed, while eateries can only do takeaways or deliveries.

Road blocks and checkpoints were set up, with around 50,000 military and police officers deployed to enforce movement restrictions until July 20 across the two islands, which account for 70 per cent of Covid-19 cases nationwide.

Java is the most populous Indonesian island with 56.1 per cent or 151.6 million of the country's 270 million population, while Bali has 4.3 million people.

In Jakarta, a number of road sections were blocked, while more than 20 checkpoints were set up to restrict movement in and out of the city of 11 million dwellers from satellite cities in neighbouring Banten and West Java provinces.

Access to several toll roads was also shut, forcing a number of vehicles to turn back.

Television footage showed Jakarta's main streets were quiet, with a smaller number of vehicles compared with regular days.

Most blocks at Jakarta's Tanah Abang market, South-east Asia's biggest textile market with around 10,000 tenants, were closed. Only one block selling vegetables and staple food was open, Metro TV reported.

Movements of residents in areas with high and moderate risks of infections were also restricted.

Indonesia expects infections to keep rising for up to two weeks before the partial lockdown begins to reduce cases, Mr Luhut Pandjaitan, a senior minister overseeing the Covid-19 response, said on Saturday.

Jakarta registered 9,702 new infections on Saturday, more than double the daily record in February during the first wave of the outbreak. Total cases in the city now stand at 570,110.

An empty main street in Jakarta on July 3, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Indonesia has been grappling with overstretched hospitals, exhausted and burned-out health workers and depleted oxygen reserves.

Increased mobility during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holiday, coupled by the spread of the Delta variant, has accelerated the growth of cases in recent weeks.

The country reported 27,913 new cases on Saturday, a daily record high, bringing overall cases to 2.26 million. It registered 493 new deaths, raising the total fatalities to 60,027.

The government hopes to reduce new cases to under 10,000 a day, as hospitals in Jakarta as well as Banten and West Java provinces have reported bed occupancy rates of at least 90 per cent.

But epidemiologists have considered the latest emergency restrictions more lenient than last year's large-scale restrictions, which banned all forms of domestic travel to and from selected provinces.

Motorists at a checkpoint in Jakarta on July 3, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The new restrictions still allow domestic long-distance travel as long as people have had at least one vaccine shot, as well as negative polymerase chain reaction test results for air travel or negative antigen test results for land and sea travel.

Since Indonesia rolled out its mass inoculation programme in January, more than 31 million people, or about 11.5 per cent, have received at least a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, falling short of its target to vaccinate 70 per cent of its 270 million population to achieve herd immunity.

The nation is speeding up its vaccination drive nationwide. It aims to inoculate one million people a day this month and two million next month.

Australia, Japan and the United States have offered help to Indonesia, which is largely relying on Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine and seeking to diversify its vaccine supply sources.

Australia provided a A$77 million (S$78.1 million) grant to purchase vaccines, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Thursday. Indonesia also welcomed the arrival of 998,400 doses of AstraZeneca from Japan on the same day.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Friday that it would ship four million doses of Moderna vaccines under the Covax global sharing programme to Indonesia "as soon as possible". Indonesia's Food and Drug Monitoring Agency has authorised the use of Moderna vaccine for emergency use.

Tighter curbs in Java and Bali

•All non-essential staff must work from home.

•Essential sectors such as banks, the stock market and hotels can have 50 per cent of staff at work but they must be on staggered shifts.

•Only online teaching and learning are allowed.

•Masks are mandatory outside homes. Face shields without masks are not allowed.

•Malls, places of worship, schools and parks are shuttered.

•Religious, cultural and sports gatherings are banned.

•Eateries are limited to takeaways and deliveries.

•Grocery store and supermarket capacity is capped at 50 per cent and outlets must close by 8pm.

•Wedding receptions are limited to a maximum of 30 guests with no food allowed.

•Commuters on inter-city and inter-province buses and trains must carry vaccine cards showing they have had at least one dose, and a negative antigen rapid test result.

•Air travellers are subjected to stricter measures, and must produce negative polymerase chain reaction swab test results.

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