Bali sets ‘alert’ status amid COVID-19 outbreak, rolls out advisory on social distancing

File photo of tourists at Tanah Lot. Photo: Coconuts Media
File photo of tourists at Tanah Lot. Photo: Coconuts Media

The Bali provincial government declared an “alert” level status for the island amid the COVID-19 pandemic today, followed by an advisory for local residents to stay at home and avoid crowded places. 

“Citizens are advised to avoid shopping centers, entertainment areas and other crowded places until March 30,” a press statement signed by Bali Governor Wayan Koster today reads.

Today marks the beginning of school shutting down for at least the next two weeks in Bali, a move that has also been taken by leaders in other provinces in Indonesia, including West Nusa Tenggara, Jakarta and Central Java. 

With the “alert” status in Bali, government officials are also expected to work from home with all government-related activities suspended until March 30. Civil servants are also barred from traveling, both domestically and internationally, on official trips in order to minimize their chances of contracting the virus.

One of the most notable parts of the advisory is the limitation or cancelation of “crowded activities or entertainment” until the set date, which may therefore impact planned events before and after the Balinese Day of Silence, or Nyepi, on March 25, which involves a lot of public gatherings.

The advisory includes several social distancing “suggestions” for the public, which advises citizens not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary, to postpone all activities that will draw the masses, and to avoid traveling to their hometowns or out of town. 

“In regards to religious activities, do as much as possible at home and try not to gather too many people,” the statement reads. 

There is no mention of closing tourist destinations on the island yet. 

The statement comes a day after President Joko Widodo advised the nation to “work from home, study from home [and] pray from home,” amid the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Many experts have noted the importance of social distancing as an effective means to contain the pandemic. 

Today, Jokowi says the archipelagic nation is not yet considering lockdowns, highlighting that such a decision will come from the central government and not regional authorities. 

As of this morning, Indonesia has 117 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including a British woman in Bali who was the country’s first COVID-19 death last week. Local health authorities in the province have traced 23 of her close contacts, and said that all of them tested negative for the novel coronavirus. This includes her husband, who had reportedly been with the patient the entire time. 

A total of 17 patients are currently under COVID-19 observation in Bali as of yesterday, according to the head of the province’s health agency, Ketut Suarjaya. Five of them have tested negative, while authorities await results from the remaining 12.

Read also ⁠— Holiday in the Time of COVID-19: How global coronavirus outbreak is affecting Bali’s tourism sector

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