The Jakarta Post
Lockdowns are unnecessary and can unduly harm the economy, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has said as the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia enters its eighth month.
In a video posted on the Presidential Secretariat’s official YouTube channel, Jokowi reiterated that public health was the government’s number one priority, but added a caveat.
“Prioritizing health doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing the economy,” he said. “Sacrificing the economy is the same as sacrificing the lives of tens of millions of people, which is not an option for us.”
He said that his administration was constantly looking to find a “balanced” way to address the outbreak.
“So, there is no need to act high and mighty about implementing lockdowns in provinces, regencies or cities because it will sacrifice the people's livelihoods. But we are still serious about preventing the outbreak from spreading further,” he said.
He added that he believed more focused, “micro-scale” social restrictions were the most effective way to curb COVID-19 transmission.
“We must make [the measures] more directed, more specific, sharper and more focused to address the COVID-19 problem without killing the economy and people’s livelihoods,” he said.
Jokowi’s pandemic policy has drawn widespread criticism from health experts and epidemiologists for leaning more toward economic recovery rather than the health crisis itself.
According to the official government count, Indonesia has recorded 303,498 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 11,151 deaths as of Sunday.