The Jakarta Post
The West Java administration will require all residents to wear face masks starting Monday, with violators of the new policy to be fined as the province steps up efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Many residents had failed to comply with government’s advice to wear face masks in public, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said. He said that he had signed a gubernatorial decree outlining the new policy, which would come into effect on Monday.
According to the decree, those found not wearing a face mask in public will be given a Rp 100,000 (US$6.95) to Rp 150,000 fine or forced to do community service.
“According to our [internal] survey, only 50 percent of West Java residents wear masks. We are imposing a fine so that we can reopen schools and the economy," Ridwan, who serves as the province’s COVID-19 task force head, said in a virtual discussion on Tuesday.
He said the policy was based on recommendations from experts, as face masks were key to minimizing coronavirus transmission.
"We've listened to the health experts and economists. They believe a lockdown could reduce transmission of the virus, but wearing masks could work too,” he said.
"However, a lockdown destroys the economy but wearing masks doesn’t. Japan has decided not to impose a lockdown but it imposes a mandatory use of face masks. So let’s wear masks.”
The former Bandung mayor expressed hope that by imposing the policy, West Java residents could help the country to avoid an economic recession. West Java is Indonesia’s most populated province with a total population of nearly 50 million people.
“We could reopen the economy as long as we wear masks and carry out aggressive testing. If successful, the West Java economy could grow 2.3 percent in December. If we fail, we could face recession, a negative growth to 2 percent," Ridwan said.
West Java has the fifth-most number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia with 6,218 cases and 206 fatalities as of Tuesday.