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Jakarta Post

Indonesia exploring options to ease social restrictions

  • Marchio Irfan Gorbiano and Nina A. Loasana

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, May 19, 2020   /   07:50 am
Indonesia exploring options to ease social restrictions Jl. Jatibaru in Tanah Abang, Jakarta, is seen packed with sellers and shoppers on May 18, a week before the Idul Fitri holiday. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

The government is using research and surveys to explore ways to ease its large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), an official has said.

"We've reported several concepts for restriction relaxations [to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo], including efforts and strategies to face challenges in the new normal," the national COVID-19 rapid response task force chief, Doni Monardo, said in a teleconference on Monday.

"So far, there's no single institution that can say when the COVID-19 pandemic will end. There's no certainty on when the vaccine would be discovered. So it is very plausible that we could live with COVID-19 forever.”

Doni explained that the task force was conducting research and carrying out surveys to determine the perfect time for relaxing restrictions.

"The President has also asked us to research which areas should be reopened,” he said. 

"Of course, there are areas that are categorized as green zones, but there are also provinces that have relatively few cases of the 34 [provinces] that are affected. However, data analysis and research are still very important to make sure that we do not make the wrong decisions on reopening regions and easing the PSBB.”

Read also: ‘Let’s coexist with COVID-19’: Jokowi calls on residents to adapt to ‘new normal’

Doni said the government needed to also make sure that the public continued to follow health protocols in areas where restrictions were scaled back.

It would also be necessary for the government to set up a team to monitor and evaluate the relaxation policy and make decisions on which regions would reopen, he added.

"We also need to establish coordination between the central and regional governments so that each province, city and regency is ready.”

Jokowi previously called for vigilance and caution amid plans to ease the PSBB in several regions after the central government began to relax the Idul Fitri mudik (exodus) ban.

“The easing of the PSBB measures should be done carefully and unhurriedly. Everything should be based on data and implementation in the field so as to ensure that the decision is in fact the correct one,” Jokowi said at the start of a Cabinet meeting last Tuesday.

According to government data, there are at least 18,010 cases of COVID-19 and 1,191 fatalities in Indonesia.

However, many have speculated that the government is underreporting cases, as reports from provincial administrations put the number of deaths at over 3,000.