People working from Bali (not via the gov’t initiative) are driving up COVID numbers

File photo of travelers at the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali. Photo: Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy
File photo of travelers at the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali. Photo: Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy

Those who have traveled to Bali, whether for a short getaway or to work from the island, are behind the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Bali, the provincial task force said this week. 

“[The spike] has been affected by domestic travelers, among whom are visiting for travel, official trips from other regions, and working from Bali,” I Made Rentin, secretary of Bali’s COVID-19 task force, said. 

“We will increase tightened monitoring at points of entry, [make sure people] obey health protocols.”

Bali, which had recorded less than 100 COVID-19 cases daily for almost a month, saw a worrying surge since last weekend. Yesterday, officials reported 127 new cases, bringing the provincial total to 48,563. 

People visiting Bali from other parts of Indonesia have increasingly become a common sight, at least on social media. On Monday, a TikTok video that has circulated widely showed people forming lines at the Ngurah Rai International Airport, perfectly capturing Indonesians’ thirst for travel during the pandemic. 

Of course, one can’t ignore the fact that Indonesian officials have been encouraging people to visit Bali to help revive the local economy. Chief among them is Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno, who himself has been dividing his office hours between Jakarta and Bali (among his other travels) since January. 

Also Read ⁠— Tourism minister says encouraging people to work from Bali has already helped boost local economy

There’s also the government’s widely discussed Work From Bali initiative, which is set to kick-off in the third quarter of this year and will involve a quarter of civil servants from at least seven ministries to work from the island. With the current droves of people visiting and working from Bali already causing worrying spikes in COVID-19 cases, it is unclear at this point if the initiative will still go as planned.

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