The Jakarta Post
The United Kingdom has appealed to its citizens traveling in Indonesia to return home while they can as many countries across the globe have imposed travel and border restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
British Ambassador to Indonesia Owen Jenkins said British nationals staying in Indonesia in the short term should immediately weigh their options as more airports had closed and more airlines had suspended flights.
“If you can think of any circumstances at all where you would wish to be in the UK over the next few months, we strongly advise you to leave,” Jenkins said in a video posted on the embassy’s Twitter account on Wednesday.
Many Brits love this great, beautiful country & have made Indonesia their home 🇬🇧❤️🇮🇩... but COVID19 Travel disruption means our advice is - “if you can think of any circumstances where you would wish to be in the UK over the next few months, we strongly advise you to leave.” 😕 pic.twitter.com/C99CoB7qT8— UK in Indonesia (@UKinIndonesia) March 25, 2020
The British Embassy in Indonesia has been working to track information on commercial flight schedules and possible routes and to encourage more than 10 airlines to reinstate flights and increase capacity amid demand for flights.
“All hands are on deck in Jakarta and Bali. I have instructed every member of staff to drop everything else. Helping British nationals get home is our number one priority,” Jenkins said in another video.
Apart from flight availability, Jenkins acknowledged that health services in Indonesia might come under intolerable strain when the country is forced to provide more assistance as coronavirus cases increase.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 790 people in Indonesia have been infected by the novel coronavirus, with 58 cases that have turned fatal, according to Indonesian government data.
“It could become difficult for British nationals to access even routine or emergency medical care. Our advice is clear. British nationals traveling here or anyone who is vulnerable should make plans to get home,” he said.
The ambassador also asked British travelers wishing to get home to be persistent in contacting airlines and travel agents to help flight companies see there is demand and to encourage them to keep operating flights.
Jenkins said the embassy was trying to help British nationals in need of lodging or those whose flights were cancelled and could not get back in time before the expiration of their stay permits.
The embassy has asked Indonesian immigration authorities to give due consideration to British nationals and accommodate their visa extension applications or grant them emergency stay permits.
“We work alongside our colleagues in the Indonesian directorate general of immigration and are extremely grateful for their help and for their agreement that people should not be fined for overstaying their visa when they couldn’t leave,” said Jenkins.
According to the Bali office of the Law and Human Rights Ministry, at least 1,830 foreigners have applied for emergency stay permits at immigration offices on the resort island since February.
The office’s spokesperson, I Putu Surya Dharma, said up to 80 percent of the foreigners were Chinese nationals. The remaining came from Britain, Italy, the United States and Germany, among other countries.