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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: House to open next session on March 30 at Senayan

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, March 26, 2020   /   02:35 pm
COVID-19: House to open next session on March 30 at Senayan House of Representatives Speaker Puan Maharani (second right) receives a document from Legislation Body (Baleg) head Supratman Andi Agtas on Jan. 22, 2020. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

After extending its recess from March 22 until March 29 following the emergence of the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia, the House of Representatives has decided to commence its next session on March 30.

The legislature is located in Senayan, Jakarta, the epicenter of Indonesia's COVID-19 epidemic. The House has been in recess since Feb. 28.

"The third session has been decided to begin on March 30," lawmaker Arsul Sani of the United Development Party (PPP) faction, who is also a deputy speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), told the press on Thursday.

He added that although the House would not extend its recess further, it would follow the government’s health emergency protocols during the plenary meeting to open the session, including maintaining adequate seating distance. All lawmakers who came to the plenary meeting must also have their body temperature checked before entering.

“Some House members will be asked to sit in the balcony, which is usually reserved for visitors,” he said.

Arsul went on to say that he had recommended that the House leadership keep the opening meeting brief by providing the relevant material to lawmakers beforehand, so the House Speaker would not need to read it out loud during the meeting.

Lawmakers and their families had been scheduled to be tested for COVID-19 on Thursday and Friday in the Kalibata and Ulujami areas of South Jakarta. Journalists assigned to cover the legislature had also been scheduled to be tested for COVID-19 along with the lawmakers.

The House had bought 40,000 rapid test kits expressly for this purpose, funded by donations from several lawmakers.

However, the plan has been postponed until further notice following wide public criticism.

Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the plan to be canceled on, as there are many sick people across the country who were still finding it difficult to be tested.

Three opposition parties – the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Democratic Party – have also objected to the plan, saying that the House should be providing the test kits for free to those who could not afford them as well as to medical workers on the front lines.

Indonesia has reported 790 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, including 58 deaths.