Closing of historic McDonald’s outlet in Jakarta draws huge gathering

Netizens condemn both the visitors and McDonald’s Sarinah management for not obeying the Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) protocol during the closing event of the historic outlet on Sunday night. Photo: Twitter/@SatpolPP_DKI
Netizens condemn both the visitors and McDonald’s Sarinah management for not obeying the Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) protocol during the closing event of the historic outlet on Sunday night. Photo: Twitter/@SatpolPP_DKI

It appears that the closure of Indonesia’s first McDonald’s restaurant in Sarinah, Central Jakarta tugged at the feelings and nostalgia of many Jakartans that they deliberately ignored partial lockdown protocols to capture the iconic outlet’s last moments.

After almost 30 years since it opened, the branch finally closed its doors for good last night. A couple of hours before many Jakartans were due to break their Ramadan fast at dusk yesterday, a crowd reportedly started gathering to say their final goodbyes to the store. 

Read Also: End of a McEra: Indonesia’s first McDonald’s restaurant in Central Jakarta’s Sarinah to close permanently

“Today, Jakartans gathered, bringing their families, pets, and cycling friends to McSarinah, the first in this country that will leave all of us tomorrow,” the Twitter user said above.

As reported by Kompas, many of the visitors went to the restaurant to reminisce by taking photos, ordering takeaways, as well as leaving messages on posters provided by the management. While standard measures were reportedly taken, such as the required temperature check and hand sanitizer usage for all visitors, the queue was so long that some had to wait outside the store. 

The closing event was also broadcasted live through McDonald’s Indonesia’s Instagram page last night, starting at around 10pm. The management of McDonald’s Sarinah gave a souvenir to their last customer, symbolically locking the entrance, and giving a farewell speech to the crowd present. Several people were seen lighting up candles, which made the whole thing seem like a vigil. 

Although the broadcast itself isn’t available for a rewatch, photos and videos taken from the scene are circulating far and wide on social media — with many netizens condemning both the visitors and McDonald’s Sarinah management for not obeying the Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) protocol, which was put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

 

“Hopefully there will be no McD Sarinah cluster, ya? PSBB is only fierce on paper, but weak on its implementation? How come there were no dispersing when there was a mass gathering?”

Film director Joko Anwar also weighed in on the matter, along with photos of the crowd taken from a safe distance by another Twitter user.

This morning, “McD Sarinah” topped Indonesia’s trending topics on Twitter.

While the event was still ongoing, Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers were heard warning the crowd through a loudspeaker that PSBB is still in effect in Jakarta. They later met with representatives of McDonald’s Sarinah, with the latter claiming that there was no official invitation for the public to witness the closing.

“[They said] the crowds came spontaneously. Well, McD’s management should’ve known that an activity that gathers a large crowd is prohibited [during PSBB]. We gave a stern warning,” Arifin, who heads Satpol PP in Jakarta, told Kumparan today.

Conversely, Indonesian Police’s Chief of Security Maintenance Unit Agus Andrianto didn’t seem to think that the gathering violated PSBB.

“As long as they implemented the social distancing advisory, wear face masks, and keep the cleanliness it’s no problem, kan. Those who have preexisting conditions diseases should be more aware because as long as the vaccine is not yet found, we have to get used to living with the coronavirus. Are we not going to do any activity? Definitely not, life goes on,” Agus told Tirto today.

While the exact number of people who gathered in and around McDonald’s Sarinah last night is not yet known, law enforcement authorities such as the police and Satpol PP are mandated to enforce existing rules and sanction PSBB violators according to the laws on health quarantine, as listed in a Health Minister Regulation issued this year. The article states that violators of the regulation may face a maximum sentence of one year in prison and/or a fine of IDR100 million (around US$6,700).

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