Public order agency chief says health protocol violations going viral ‘key consideration’ for law enforcement

A packed crowd at Old Man’s reopening party on June 10, 2020. Photo: Video screengrab via Instagram
A packed crowd at Old Man’s reopening party on June 10, 2020. Photo: Video screengrab via Instagram

Authorities in Bali are not exactly oblivious to the fact that many restaurants, cafés, and bars in Bali have ignored health protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but one official said a place going viral on social media is now a key consideration to actually close it down. 

In a WhatsApp chat with Coconuts, the chief of Badung regency’s Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) I Gusti Agung Ketut Suryanegara, acknowledged that violations of health protocols happen in many places across his jurisdiction. 

Crowds are now a common sight in some of the more popular areas in Bali, notably tourist enclave Canggu, where a significant number of people who frequent establishments in the area have not bothered to wear masks nor observe other health protocols.

“Restaurants and bars face a dilemma, if they are strict about requiring masks right after drinking or eating, the guests will leave right away and they will lose their guests,” Suryanegara said. 

The Satpol PP head said most F&B businesses are good with enforcing mandatory temperature checks, mask use, and hand sanitizer use for guests, while staff are also required to wear masks and undergo rapid tests. 

“Once, we carried out an inspection at an area and conducted a mass rapid test, but then the business people all complained that they were losing money, because when we do so the guests will go home without paying for their food and drinks.”

This results in a dilemma for authorities, too, Suryanegara said, further noting that a restaurant going viral for violating health protocols is now one of the aspects Satpol PP will consider to decide whether or not to close it down.

The agency says it’s not exactly understaffed, but suggested that the onus to ensure health protocol compliance should lie on businesses lest they face closure.

And yet health protocols continue to be violated, as one can easily see by going for a cruise through Canggu or scrolling through social media, where photos and videos of crowded no-mask events regularly take place.  

“We’ve done what we could, and for the next step so they will heed and stay disciplined about health protocols, [they must acknowledge] the risks of opening during the pandemic. If they are ready to open then they must be ready to close if they violate [protocols],” Suryanegara said.

Read more news and updates from Bali here.

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