Bali records highest daily spike in COVID-19 cases as officials set tentative timeline to reopen tourism

A traditional gate in Bali. Photo: Unsplash
A traditional gate in Bali. Photo: Unsplash

Bali Governor Wayan Koster yesterday announced a tentative plan to reopen Bali for tourists, as health officials record the province’s highest daily spike in COVID-19 cases so far. 

The current plan might see local tourism within the island restarting next month, with the reopening for domestic tourists to follow in August. 

“Once again I must emphasize that this is only a [tentative] plan, not a definitive schedule that would certainly be done. Whether or not we commit to this timeline will greatly depend on the situation and dynamics of COVID-19 on the ground, especially regarding local transmissions in Bali,” Koster told reporters yesterday, following a meeting with Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio in Ubud. 

From Left, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio, Bali Deputy Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, and Bali Governor Wayan Koster. Photo: Bali Provincial Government
From Left, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio, Bali Deputy Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, and Bali Governor Wayan Koster. Photo: Bali Provincial Government

“I am applying a careful principle when it comes to tourism, and the minister also holds a similar view. We don’t want there to be a second wave, which will be difficult to manage.”

The governor, along with the provincial COVID-19 Task Force, have established that health protocols for the tourism sector is neither feasible nor sufficient in the case of Bali for the time being. However, officials have nevertheless prepared necessary steps to meet the health protocol requirements, with the current plan possibly seeing local tourism within Bali restarting on July 9. 

Related ⁠— Bali set to become Tourism Ministry’s pilot project for new health-focused program

Should authorities deem the situation conducive for reopening after that, the island will then start welcoming domestic tourists in August, before finally welcoming foreign tourists in September. 

As one of the world’s top tourist destinations, the reopening of Bali continues to be a hot topic among officials, tourism players, and global travelers. While there is no certainty on how travel will look like for the remainder of 2020, many are still hopeful that global travel ⁠— which is currently at a near-standstill ⁠— will return soon, albeit much different than it was prior to the coronavirus outbreak. 

In spite of various optimism expressed by Bali tourism players and through statements attributed to the central government, Koster appears more measured in his plans to reopen Bali. Earlier this week, he said he is not in a hurry to implement the so-called “new normal” here in Pulau Dewata. 

Bali recorded the highest spike in daily cases yesterday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases for the province to 829. Locally transmitted cases now make up the majority of cases here, with Denpasar city reporting the highest number of cases at 241. 

Read Also Bali administration mulling plan to include police, military personnel to enforce health protocols in traditional markets

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