4 more weeks of social restrictions for Jakarta as Indonesia’s COVID-19 cases near 7,500

JAKARTA: Jakarta’s administration will extend wide-scale social restrictions by four weeks as the number of Indonesia’s COVID-19 cases approached 7,500 on Wednesday (Apr 22).

Closures of non-essential workplaces and schools in the Indonesian capital to curb further spread of the coronavirus will continue until May 22, said governor Anies Baswedan in a press conference.

The restrictions came into effect on Apr 10 and was set to end on Friday.

Separately, Indonesia reported 283 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, taking the total number of cases to 7,418, a health ministry official said.

The official, Achmad Yurianto, said there were 19 new coronavirus deaths, taking the total to 635 – the highest in Southeast Asia.

More than 47,300 people have been tested and 913 had recovered, he added.

READ: ‘I can barely take a break’ – Gravediggers in Jakarta race against time as deaths linked to COVID-19 rise

Baswedan called for “discipline” among the Jakarta public as there have been instances of mass gathering and non-essential companies operating in the past two weeks.

“If we want the pandemic to be over quickly, everyone has to cooperate and strive to be disciplined to abide by (the social restrictions),” said the governor.

He added that the restrictions are being extended based on “the views of experts in infectious diseases”.

READ: Cooped up in small homes and lacking awareness, Jakarta’s urban poor find it tough amid partial lockdown

A police officer gives a face mask to a resident during large-scale social restrictions to prevent

A police officer gives a face mask to a resident during large-scale social restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Depok, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, April 15, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

Going forward, authorities will enhance enforcement efforts on those who flout the restrictions, paying particular attention to businesses who have been looking for “loopholes” to continue operating, said Baswedan.

“The time for (public) advisory and education is over. It is now time for enforcement.”

Errant businesses may have their premises sealed, or even have their licences revoked if they do not heed initial warnings, he added.

Asked about residents who are still not getting financial aid promised by the government, Baswedan acknowledged that “many” have not received help and said that the authorities are still working to distribute it.

A benefit worth 3.5 million rupiah (US$215) over a four-month period has been rolled out through a nationwide pre-employment card programme.

READ: COVID-19 – Red tape prevents laid-off, poor Indonesians from getting promised aid

The governor also reiterated a ban on Indonesia’s traditional annual exodus of people returning to their home villages at the end of the Muslim fasting month in May.

President Joko Widodo on Tuesday said Indonesia will ban “mudik”, or exodus, which normally sees people streaming out of cities each year after Ramadan.

Health experts had warned that allowing millions in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country to travel could hasten the spread of COVID-19.

Commentary: Indonesia’s half-hearted effort to halt massive Ramadan exodus is all form, no substance

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