The Jakarta Post
Imposing a nationwide lockdown to flatten the curve of COVID-19 transmission would do nothing but overwhelm the government, the national COVID-19 rapid response task force has said, as the strict measure would require the government to provide affected residents with basic provisions like food and medicine.
"Imagine if the President had decided to impose a lockdown on the country. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency [BNPB] would have been overwhelmed by now, as this would have meant it had to distribute goods to hundreds of millions of residents nationwide," COVID-19 task force head Doni Monardo, who also heads the BNPB, said on Monday during a meeting with the House of Representatives.
Doni added that it was the government's obligation to meet its citizens' basic needs during the quarantine period as stated in Article 55 of the 2018 law on health quarantine.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has remained adamant that he would not impose a lockdown, resisting calls to implement the measure from health experts and regional leaders who criticized the vague physical distancing policy as "ineffective" in curbing the virus' spread.
"We want economic activities to continue, with [businesses] practicing the social distancing for safety," Jokowi said earlier.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has continued to rise, with 2,491 confirmed cases and 209 deaths reported on Monday.
Doni said that the agency, in coordination with the Agriculture Ministry, had provided seeds to people who had been forced to leave their urban jobs as a result of the economic impacts of the outbreak and subsequently returned to their hometowns. The seeds were intended to provide an alternative livelihood back in their hometowns.
"At the time being, our duty is to ensure that people can lead decent lives. We are applying restrictions, not prohibitions," he added.