The Jakarta Post
Dozens of seafarers wishing to enter Batam, Riau Islands, have been required to undergo a 14-day quarantine as Indonesia has suspended its visa-free policy and has mandated the isolation period to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The sailors who have come from Myanmar and the Philippines are now in self-quarantine and are being periodically monitored by officers from the Batam Port Health Office (KKP).
Romer Simanungkalit, the head of the Batam KKP’s quarantine control and epidemiology surveillance department, said that the new policy had been imposed to carry out Law and Human Rights Ministerial Regulation No.8/2020 on the temporary suspension of visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel.
“We have asked the sailors [from Myanmar and the Philippines] to self-quarantine. We will monitor them before they enter Batam,” he said.
According to Romer, the sailors must undergo the quarantine before they continue their trip, whether to Batam, Jakarta or other destinations in Indonesia.
“Quarantine is required. It’s not voluntary. Since the new policy was put in place, we have only quarantined sailors from Myanmar and the Philippines so far,” Romer added.
The arrivals of Singaporeans and Malaysians, who are the main visitors to Batam, have fallen as their countries have imposed similar restrictions on movement to those Indonesia has implemented, according to Romer.
“We have yet to receive information regarding Singaporeans or Malaysians being quarantined,” he added.
International ferry ports in Batam have not entirely suspended their operations, he said. Some operators have kept routes open from Malaysia and Singapore, but they mostly carry the citizens of those countries or Indonesians returning to Batam.
Chairul Mirza, the head of the immigration checkpoint at the Batam Immigration Office, said that Batam used to open its doors to more than 5,000 people a day. However, since the Singaporean government issued travel restrictions, later followed by Malaysia, the number has decreased by 90 percent to about 1,000 people a day.
“With the 14-day quarantine requirement in place, I assume that the number will be lower. However, we [the officials] in Batam are ready to implement any measures to curb the spread of COVID-19,” Mirza said.
Foreigners who want to visit Batam or other regions in Indonesia must apply for a visa through the Indonesian mission in their respective countries. They are also required to provide a document declaring their willingness to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon entering Indonesia.
“The quarantine itself is the domain of the KKP. They will manage the process,” Mirza said. (asp)