The Jakarta Post
As the year draws to a close, several regional administrations across the country have taken steps to prepare public order and safety measures amid concerns over another spike in COVID-19 cases during the year-end holidays.
East Nusa Tenggara, for instance, has formed the Lilin Turangga joint police-military operation consisting of 3,904 personnel aimed at maintaining security during Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations in the region.
The 15-day operation is scheduled to run from Dec. 21 to Jan. 4.
East Nusa Tenggara Police chief Insp. Gen. Lotharia Latif said that his office was preparing to handle potential problems this year, having dealt with fuel scarcity, civil unrest and extreme weather last year.
“These conditions are predicted to also occur [toward the end of] 2020,” Lotharia said during a joint coordination meeting on Friday, adding that the number of reported crimes was also expected to jump as public mobility increased during the holidays.
He emphasized the importance of public compliance with COVID-19 protocols, urging residents to refrain from gathering in large numbers as doing so would only increase the risk of coronavirus transmission.
“If possible, spend time with the family at home. We call on the public to celebrate Christmas virtually,” Lotharia said.
As of Friday, the East Nusa Tenggara administration has logged 1,643 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 36 deaths related to the disease.
Similarly, authorities in North Maluku have called for strict adherence to the available health measures to curb the spread of the lethal coronavirus.
“I ask that Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations remain compliant with health protocols,” North Maluku Police chief Insp. Gen. Risyapudin Ternate said on Saturday as quoted by Antara news agency.
In addition to compliance with the so-called 3M protocols of mask-wearing, handwashing and physical distancing, Risyapudin also called on the public to engage in activities that do not jeopardize public order over the course of the holidays.
Simon Suyanto, the head of the Inter-Church Cooperative Council in Ternate, said a number of local churches had each established their own special committee to assist in the implementation of COVID-19 measures.
It was previously reported that Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan had issued a gubernatorial instruction and decree ordering his subordinates to implement stricter restrictions over the year-end holidays to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in the nation’s capital.
The orders were extra measures deemed necessary to limit public mobility and prevent a spike in COVID-19 cases after the holiday season.
The capital city has seen a 13.4 increase in coronavirus transmission since a five-day extended holiday in late October, with hundreds of new family clusters emerging in the city.
To discourage the public from traveling, the central government had cut the number of collective leave days for Christmas and New Year, including a substitute leave day to make up for the shortened Idul Fitri break, and banned large events.
Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan had also specifically instructed Anies to impose stricter regulations in Jakarta during the holidays, including a ban on New Year's Eve celebrations in public places.
A joint police-military team comprising 8,179 personnel was deployed to ensure public order and safety in Jakarta toward the end of the year.
“We assure you that we will not issue permits for all forms of mass gatherings, such as New Year’s Eve celebrations,” said Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Yusri Yunus on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com.
He added that the rule applied to major tourist destinations across the capital, such as Ancol and Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, as they would be required to close early at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
The National Police would also deploy personnel to numerous tourist areas and other spots that might attract crowds to ensure people follow health rules, earlier reports said.
To further suppress COVID-19 transmission, the government also requires travelers flying to Bali to take polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and vacationers traveling by land must present negative antigen test results from tests taken two days prior to their trip. The Bali administration said the rule would be in effect from Dec. 18 to Jan. 8.
But even without the holidays, epidemiologists said the government should have scaled up PCR testing nationwide – and not rapid antibody testing, which often produces inconclusive results and cannot be used for diagnostics. They believe that the scale-up could suppress Indonesia’s positivity rate to below the ideal rate of below 5 percent, as opposed to the country’s high rate of 18 percent on Dec. 14.
The number of people swab tested nationwide was above 30,000 per day this month, with occasional decreases on weekends.
Indonesia reported 6,982 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total tally to 664,930 confirmed cases, 103,239 of which are active infections. (rfa)