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Jakarta Post

Bali sets 'Siaga' advisory in keeping with govt policy to curb COVID-19 spread

  • Ni Komang Erviani

    The Jakarta Post

Denpasar   /   Mon, March 16, 2020   /   02:44 pm
Bali sets 'Siaga' advisory in keeping with govt policy to curb COVID-19 spread Visitors walk the shores of Kuta Beach on March 3 in Bali, which is usually packed with sunbathers and surfers. Tourism businesses have complained of decreasing tourist numbers as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. (JP/Zul Trio Anggono)

The administration of the popular resort island of Bali declared on Sunday evening an advisory level of Siaga (watch)  for the province. 

The advisory is part of the provincial administration's effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), which has dealt a blow to tourism on the "island of the gods".

Bali administration secretary Dewa Made Indra, who has been appointed chairman of the province's COVID-19 task force, said that the decision to declare the advisory was made on Sunday evening at a meeting led by Bali Governor I Wayan Koster.

“The Bali administration had a meeting last night [Sunday] to respond to the President’s instruction [...] and we have decided to take several actions. We issued the Siaga advisory level to manage [the spread of] COVID-19,” Dewa said on Monday.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced on Sunday a call to the nation to take the precautionary measure of "social distancing" to limit direct interaction in battling the viral respiratory disease. In his address, the President also urged the nation's citizens to stay at home, excepting urgent matters.

Following the advisory alert, Dewa said, the Bali administration had also urged residents and visitors across the island to minimize public and mass gatherings, and called for online learning to be implemented at schools and universities.

“Learning activities at all schools, from kindergarten to university, will be held online from home,” he said.

Furthermore, all government institutions in Bali were to postpone meetings, seminars and workshops in keeping with the policy to restrict public gatherings. Civil servants in Bali are also barred from travelling either domestically or internationally on official trips to minimize their probability of contracting the virus.

The policy is to become effective starting Tuesday for the next 14 days as the administration rushes to inform the public.

Dewa added that the provincial administration would evaluate the policy after the two-week period. He also advised everyone to follow the policy and stay at home.

“Everyone should remain calm, don't panic, but keep maintaining healthy lifestyles to boost their immune system,” he said.

Dewa admitted, however, that no specific instructions were forthcoming from the central government to close tourist attractions in Bali.

He said that the province's policy was intended only to minimize the number of visitors at a tourist site. The administration had notified the management of all tourist sites to increase vigilance and also instructed all related institutions and agencies to implement good hygiene practices, including routine disinfection.

“We will not close tourist destinations,” stressed Dewa.

Regarding ongoing tourist arrivals to the island, both overseas and domestic, Dewa said that the provincial administration did not have the authority to close access to Bali.

“That is the central government’s jurisdiction. What we can do is tighten the implementation of health protocols at all ports of entry, including airports seaports and fishing harbors,” he said.

Bali recorded Indonesia's first death from COVID-19 on March 11, a woman from the United Kingdom who died at Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar. (rin)