Indonesia to ease Covid-19 restrictions as cases decline

The Pfizer vaccine has been distributed to Jakarta and its neighbouring cities in West Java and Banten provinces.
The Pfizer vaccine has been distributed to Jakarta and its neighbouring cities in West Java and Banten provinces.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Indonesia has decided to ease Covid-19 restrictions in a number of regions across the country, including Jakarta, starting from Tuesday (Aug 24). 

The decision was announced on Monday as Jakarta residents became the first in the country to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

President Joko Widodo said the relaxation was possible as the number of infections had dropped by 78 per cent since July 15, when Covid-19 cases peaked. This had led to a significant decline in bed occupancy rate at hospitals, which now stood at 33 percent, he said.

“By observing improvement in some indicators, the government will gradually adjust some restrictions to public activities,” Mr Widodo said in a live-streamed statement.

“The easing of restrictions will be accompanied by the implementation of strict health protocols and the use of the PeduliLindungi application as an entry requirement,” he added.

Launched last year, the mobile application, which shows proof of vaccination and the Covid-19 situation in one’s surrounding areas, among other things, is now used by visitors to check into public places such as grocery stores and malls.

As part of the easing of the restrictions, which have been in force since July 3, places of worship will be allowed to reopen with 25 per cent capacity or 30 worshippers at the maximum. Restaurants may accept diners but only at 25 per cent capacity. Shopping centres and malls can also welcome visitors at half of its overall capacity.

Export-oriented industrial firms may also operate at full capacity, but will be shut for five days if new clusters are found in their facilities.

Indonesia, which has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic in the world, reported 9,604 fresh infections on Monday, bringing the overall tally in the country to 3.99 million.

The number of deaths nationwide rose by 842 in the past 24 hours, resulting in total fatalities of 127,214.

President Widodo noted that the government was aiming to administer more than 100 million vaccine doses to its citizens by the end of August.

Around 32.05 million people, or 15.2 per cent of the targeted population, have been fully vaccinated.

On Monday, Jakarta residents aged 18 and above received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shots at four venues across the city. Dr Siti Nadia Tarmizi, the Health Ministry’s Covid-19 vaccination spokesman, told The Straits Times that the vaccine will eventually be distributed to all 34 provinces.