Various footage showing hundreds of people clamoring to greet President Joko Widodo during his visit to Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) yesterday has circulated widely, as it highlights a disturbing lack of crowd management and health protocol observance amid an ongoing pandemic.
— RumahAksara™ (@didienAZHAR) February 23, 2021
According to Bey Machmudin, a deputy from the Presidential Secretariat, people were already waiting on the sides of the street when the president’s convoy arrived. The crowd eventually moved closer to get a better look at Jokowi, who was still in the car as all this unfolded.
Jokowi then proceeded to greet the crowd by appearing from the car’s sunroof, waving his hand and pointing to his face mask, signalling to members of the crowd to wear theirs. At one point, he also threw clothes and books to the crowd as gifts.
Though most people appear to be wearing masks, there was obviously a lack of social distancing and crowd management, which quickly drew criticism online. It is, after all, quite noteworthy that public enthusiasm didn’t seem to have been properly anticipated during a presidential visit.
“The president was still reminding people to comply with health protocols,” Bey told local media outlets in response to the controversy.
Jokowi, in theory, should be at little risk of catching COVID-19 by appearing so close to the crowd, as he was the first person in Indonesia to be inoculated against the disease via the country’s mass vaccination program.
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