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Indonesia moves to curb virus surges

Java, Bali face stricter restrictions in latest bid to combat Covid-19 in high-risk areas

Indonesia moves to curb virus surges

A nearly deserted I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali, on Dec. 28. Bali and Java are facing stricter anti-virus measures due to soaring Covid-19 cases. (Photo: Katharina R. Lestari/UCA News)

The Indonesian government will implement tighter measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic by imposing large-scale restrictions on high-risk Java and Bali islands for two weeks, according to a state official.

Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto, who heads the country’s Covid-19 Handling and Economic Recovery Committee, told journalists in Jakarta on Jan. 6 that the measures will be imposed from Jan. 11-25 after dozens of countries around the globe imposed strict lockdowns amid surging cases triggered by a new and more contagious variant of the virus.

He said company offices will be limited to 25 percent capacity, places of worship will be limited to 50 percent capacity and online learning will resume. Meanwhile, shopping malls will be required to close at 7pm and restaurants will be allowed to serve dine-in customers at a maximum of 25 percent capacity.

The restrictions will be imposed on Java and Bali islands because they are considered areas posing the highest infection risk.

“The government will continue to evaluate the situation and strictly enforce the implementation of health protocols by deploying policemen and military personnel,” the minister said.

Muliawan Margadana, coordinator of the Catholic Network Against Covid-19 group, said the measures were “really needed.”

“The government must ensure that these restrictions are effective by making sure local authorities play a significant role in enforcing the measures,” he told UCA News.

Referring to limits placed on places of worship, Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang in Central Java province said his archdiocese’s policy “is still tighter than the government’s planned measures.”

“We have set a limit of only 30 percent,” he said, reminding that Catholics should always pay serious attention to health protocols.

As of Jan. 6, Indonesia had recorded 779,548 Covid-19 cases and 23,109 deaths.

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Meanwhile, the government began distributing the Covid-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech to all 34 provinces on Jan. 3, according to Indonesian media.

The government has initially set a goal of vaccinating at least 181 million of the country’s 270 million population, with health workers being given top priority. 

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