Indonesia's capital Jakarta to ease coronavirus curbs from Monday

Jakarta will begin easing restrictions that were imposed since mid-September. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - The Indonesian capital will gradually ease pandemic restrictions for two weeks starting Monday (Oct 12), given the slower growth in Covid-19 infections and active cases in Jakarta since the re-imposition of a partial lockdown on Sept 14.

Under the relaxed restrictions, offices in essential business sectors may operate with a capacity that is "in line with their needs", while those in non-essential business sectors will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent of their capacity.

Restaurants and cafes may serve dine-in guests, but can only operate at half-capacity, and those which have tourism business registration permits can even perform live music. Recreational parks and tourist destinations may resume and open at one-fourth of their capacity.

Gyms can reopen with a 25 per cent capacity cap, while other indoor and outdoor sports facilities may open at 50 per cent of their capacity. Indoor activities such as seminars, movie theatre and marriage solemnisations can be held with one fourth of the venue capacity.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said on Sunday (Oct 11) that the decision was taken as the number of daily confirmed and active cases dipped after large-scale social restrictions were put in place.

"The 'emergency brake policy' has been placed in the past one month because the number of cases surged uncontrollably beyond our expectations. After it stabilises, we begin to loosen the brake slowly and gradually," Dr Anies said in a statement.

He added: "We need to emphasise that discipline must be practised strictly so that the chain of infections remains under control and we don't need to use the emergency brake again."

Jakarta went back into lockdown after the number of confirmed cases rose 37.09 per cent and the number of active cases spiked by 63.63 per cent between Aug 29 and Sept 11.

The situation improved in the weeks that followed, with the infection rate falling to 22.39 per cent, while the rise in active cases was brought down to 3.81 per cent between Sept 25 and Oct 9.

Dr Anies also noted that there were "early signs" that the restrictions were showing results, given the decline of daily cases in the past seven days. The number of fatalities also fell to 187 in the past week, from 295 in the previous week.

"The case fatality rate (CFR) in Jakarta also further went down to 2.2 per cent now, and so did the growth of death," he said, adding that without the return to the large-scale social restrictions, the CFR might have hit 28 per cent. However, Dr Anies also underlined the need to push down CFR to "as low as possible" and even zero.

As of Sunday, the city of around 11 million had recorded 86,963 cases and 1,889 fatalities, contributing largely to Indonesia's overall 333,449 infections and 11,844 deaths.

The city administration is enhancing the capacity of health facilities to tackle Covid-19 patients. It has grown the number of referral hospitals from 67 to 98, increasing capacity to 5,719 isolation beds and 766 intensive care unit beds.

As of Saturday, the occupancy rates of isolation and ICU beds were 66 and 67 per cent, respectively.

The second partial lockdown, which began on Sept 14, was not as strict as the first one, which ran from April 10 to June 5. Companies in non-essential sectors could operate with only 25 per cent of their employees working in offices and the rest working from home.

Restaurants and cafes, however, could not serve dine-in meals, while parks and tourist venues were closed.

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