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Jakarta Post

'They love to stay longer ': 600 Chinese citizens extend permits in Bali amid virus fears

  • Ni Komang Erviani

    The Jakarta Post

Denpasar, Bali   /   Mon, February 24, 2020   /   04:28 pm
'They love to stay longer ': 600 Chinese citizens extend permits in Bali amid virus fears Tourists walk to a pick-up point at Sanur Beach, Denpasar, after their return from Nusa Penida Island in Bali on Feb. 10. (JP/Zul Trio Anggono)

More than 600 Chinese nationals have extended their stays in Bali amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak in China, securing emergency stay permits that enable them to remain on the resort island for another 30 days after their visas expire.

The Law and Human Rights Ministry’s Bali office spokesperson, I Putu Surya Dharma, said the Chinese citizens had applied for the emergency stay permits through three immigration offices in Bali, namely Ngurah Rai Immigration Office in Jimbaran, Denpasar Immigration Office and Singaraja Immigration Office in Buleleng regency.

“Most applications were submitted through Ngurah Rai Immigration Office in Jimbaran,” Surya Dharma told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

The policy of granting emergency stay permits for Chinese tourists has been in place ever since the government imposed a travel ban to and from mainland China on Feb. 5, which also temporarily suspended all flights connecting Indonesia and the East Asian country, where the deadly coronavirus was first detected.

Surya said that Chinese citizens could apply for the emergency stay permits at the nearest immigration office by bringing valid travel documents, namely their passports, Indonesian visa as well as their previous stay permit. 

Read also: Japanese man's COVID-19 case raising concerns about Indonesia's detection ability

“The application is free of charge,” Surya said.

Authorities previously estimated that at least 5,000 Chinese tourists in Bali are likely to be stranded in the resort island as a result of the indefinite travel ban. 

However, Chinese Consul General in Denpasar Guo Haodong said many of the Chinese citizens had departed from Bali to other countries that had yet to impose a travel ban to mainland China and had boarded flights from there to get home.

Guo said the some 600 remaining Chinese citizens had decided to extend their stays in Bali for fears of coronavirus in their home country as well as because many of their activities in China were halted due to the outbreak.

“And they love to stay longer in Bali, enjoy Bali longer,” Guo said, adding that all Chinese citizens holidaying in Bali were in good health.

The coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, has spread to nearly 30 countries since it first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December.

As of Monday, more than 2,500 deaths from the virus were confirmed in mainland China, while nearly 30 people outside mainland China have died after contracting the virus. More than 77,000 infections have been recorded worldwide, AFP reported.

Read also: 118 foreigners refused entry to Indonesia in February due to China travel history

Anak Agung Suryawan Wiranatha, the director of Udayana University's Center of Excellence in Tourism, said Bali should continue accommodating Chinese citizens stranded on the resort island as long as the provincial administration was able to lend them a hand.

“Maybe they are more comfortable to stay in Indonesia because of the outbreak of the virus in their country. So, we should help them,” he said.

Agung Suryawan further suggested that tourist industry stakeholders offer the Chinese citizens special discounts while staying in Bali, saying that “this is a question of humanity".

He went on to say that people should not worry about their stay in Bali as they had passed the 14 days of coronavirus incubation period since the date they entered the province.

“If they had contracted [coronavirus], they would have already shown symptoms. They are already here for more than 14 days, so there's nothing to worry about if they stay here longer,” he said.