As Indonesia continues its struggle to control the COVID-19 pandemic, many regions have come up with creative ways to curb the spread of the disease, including various punishments for those caught violating health protocols.
The Jakarta Post has compiled a list of unique measures imposed by regional administrations across the country.
Central Java, home to more than 30 million people, has chosen a different approach to handle the COVID-19 outbreak rather than imposing large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) like many other regions across Indonesia.
Instead, it has come up with its own strategy dubbed Jogo Tonggo (neighbors looking after each other), a community movement program in which communities collaborate to ensure residents maintain a physical distance, manage food supplies and help others in response to the pandemic.
Residents of community unit (RW) 5 of Jomblang subdistrict in Candisari, Semarang, are among the Central Java communities that started implementing Jogo Tonggo soon after the pandemic hit the country in March.
More than three-quarters of RW 5’s residents work in the informal sector, mostly as day laborers and street vendors. Since the coronavirus pandemic hit the province, 393 of the 539 families in RW 5 have been financially impacted as of June, according to Mohamad Qunut, a Jogo Tonggo facilitator for RW 5.
To help these families, neighbors built a hydroponic garden and started a collective lumbung pangan (food barn) at the RW 5 office.
Surakarta, Central Java
Surakarta Deputy Mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo said in early December that health protocol offenders in the city would be given social penalties, such as spending one day in “quarantine” or cleaning the trenches surrounding the Vastenburg Fortress.
Surakarta will also apply a 14-day quarantine for those coming into the city for the year-end holidays. The policy, which is aimed to curb COVID-19 transmission, is supposed to come into force on Tuesday.
Initially, the city administration had planned to use the Vastenburg Fortress as a quarantine facility. The fortress is an 18th-century Dutch fort located in Gladak, Surakarta, and is a city landmark. However, parts of the heritage site were damaged and the administration would have needed to make repairs before using it as a quarantine facility.
Therefore, the administration decided to use the Solo Technopark, an integrated facility for science and technology under the management of the Surakarta administration.
The Solo Technopark, which is located in the eastern part of Surakarta, will be able to house 60 people for quarantine.
Gresik, East Java
In Gresik regency, eight residents were ordered by local authorities to dig graves for people who had died of COVID-19 as a punishment for not wearing face masks in public in September.
Cerme district head Suyono said residents who did not wear face masks were made to dig graves at a public cemetery in Ngabetan village.
“There are only three available gravediggers at the moment, so I thought I might as well put these people to work with them,” Suyono said as quoted by tribunnews.com, adding that local authorities made sure the health protocol violators did not participate in the burials.
To assist the gravediggers, Suyono assigned two people to each grave. One is tasked with digging the grave, while the other lays wooden boards inside the hole to support the corpse.
“Hopefully, this can create a deterrent effect against violations,” Suyono said.
Sidoarjo, East Java
In Sidoarjo, also in September, health protocol violators were ordered to perform a mass prayer at a cemetery for COVID-19 victims.
As many as 54 residents gathered at the Delta Praloyo public cemetery at night to offer prayers for those who had died of the disease.
Sidoarjo Police chief Sr. Comm. Sumardji said he hoped the punishment would create a deterrent effect among other residents.
“Because punishing them by making them clean public facilities still proved ineffective, we ordered them to perform a mass prayer at a public cemetery for COVID-19 victims in Sidoarjo,” Sumardji said.
Sragen, Central Java
In April, three travelers from Jakarta, Lampung and Kalimantan were forced to undergo quarantine at a supposed haunted house in Sepat village of Masaran district, Sragen, for disobeying the mudik (exodus) ban.
The travelers gave up after two days of quarantine because they claimed they saw apparitions inside the house. The police sent them home after their parents promised they would discipline their children.
Sragen Regent Kusdinar Untung Yuni Sukowati said she had prepared “a haunted house” that had been abandoned for more than 10 years for those who failed to comply with the ban.
“The house has been abandoned for 10 years, so I believe that there will be some terrifying ghosts roaming around the place,” Yuni said as quoted by kompas.com. (dpk)
Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.