Indonesia to divide G-20 participants into 'bubbles' for Nov 15-16 summit in Bali

The opening ceremony of the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Feb 17, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

DENPASAR (Bali) - Indonesia will group conference participants into four "bubbles" at the G-20 meetings it is hosting in Bali later this year, to minimise any spread of Covid-19.

Participants will limit interactions to within their respective bubbles, said the Health Ministry on Friday night (Feb 25).

Bubble 1 will consist of delegates and their entourage and VVIPs; Bubble 2, guests and journalists; Bubble 3, officials, organising committee; and Bubble 4, supporting personnel such as technicians.

The bubble protocol will essentially be a travel corridor that will separate those involved in the summit from the public at hotels, venues and other supporting facilities for every event or meeting during and leading up to the 2022 G-20 summit in Bali.

"As the host, Indonesia applies tight health protocols that must be understood and adhered to by all G-20 participants from the point they depart their home country until they leave Indonesia," Dr Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a Health Ministry spokesman, said in a statement.

The ministry also announced that the summit will be pushed back to Nov 15-16, instead of in October as originally planned.

Indonesia, which assumed the one-year G-20 presidency last December, taking over from Italy, hosted the first of finance ministers and central bank deputies' meetings on Dec 9-10, with some participants attending physically in a Jakarta venue while others attended virtually.

Among Jakarta's priority issues during its presidency of the G-20 are strengthening the global health architecture and fostering a sustainable energy transition.

Having themed its presidency Recover Together, Recover Stronger, Indonesia hopes to get countries to work together to achieve a stronger and more sustainable world recovery from Covid-19.

The G-20 comprises 19 major advanced and emerging economies and the European Union.

Singapore is not a G-20 member but has been invited to attend the November summit. It was similarly invited to many past G-20 summits and related meetings as the convenor of the Global Governance Group, which is an informal grouping of 30 small and medium-sized members of the United Nations.

G-20 side events will also be held in other locations including the Lake Toba region in North Sumatra and Nusa Tenggara Timur's Labuan Bajo, which boasts the world's only habitat of the Komodo dragon.

Participants arriving in Indonesia must be fully vaccinated, with the second shot at least 14 days prior to departure. They must also show a negative polymerase chain reaction test that was taken within three days of departure and insurance that covers medical treatment of up to US$25,000 (S$33,840).

Meanwhile, Indonesia is considering allowing quarantine-free travel earlier than expected - probably starting in the second or third week of March - as Covid-19 cases trend downwards around the vast archipelago. The government had previously indicated that the country would open to quarantine-free travel on April 1.

Currently, travellers have to serve five days of quarantine, but this will be cut to three days from March 1.

The country's flag carrier - Garuda Indonesia - and Singapore Airlines (SIA) have resumed flights to Bali. Garuda has been flying to and from Tokyo since Feb 3 and SIA has been doing so to and from Singapore since Feb 16.

Since Feb 3, Bali has received 1,300 inbound passengers - 700 of whom were foreigners and the remainder returning Indonesians.

Other airlines such as KLM Royal Dutch, Scoot Tigerair and Jetstar Airways may also resume flights to the resort island, according to the Indonesian government.

A total of 258 Covid-19 patients died in the past 24 hours, bringing total deaths to 147,844 since the pandemic began. Indonesia has a total of 5.5 million cases, with 46,653 new infections reported on Saturday.

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