Indonesian retail association insists malls are safe from COVID-19

Nadia Vetta Hamid/Coconuts Jakarta" width="100%" />
Shops in South Jakarta’s Pondok Indah Mall closed due to the government’s social distancing advisory in April 2020. Photo: Nadia Vetta Hamid/Coconuts Jakarta

Going to the mall is one of the safest activities one may partake in in Indonesia, a retail association has suggested, pushing back fears that shopping centers may be hunting grounds for the coronavirus.

The government last week said thousands of COVID-19 patients and those who have come in close contact with patients have been attempting to enter malls in the country, according to data gathered by integrated health and mobility tracking app PeduliLindungi.

 The government did not say whether or not this group of people were able to bypass mall security despite being screened out by the app, putting the sterility of malls from COVID-19 into question.

The Indonesian Shopping Centers Management Association (APPBI) yesterday claimed that malls have been diligent in turning away those who PeduliLindungi says are not eligible to enter. APPBI then turned the spotlight back to the government.

“Where did those thousands of people go after they were turned away from shopping malls?” APPBI Chairman Alphonzus Widjaja said in a written statement yesterday.

“It has been proven that shopping centers have the ability to turn away and prevent those who have been exposed to COVID-19. But what about other public facilities that may not yet have the capability to detect and turn away thousands who are positive with COVID-19?”

The association has long been a vocal critic of the government’s lockdown measures, especially during Indonesia’s devastating June-August COVID-19 wave when malls were ordered to shut and later allowed to reopen with tight restrictions.

Among those restrictions is how only those with proof of vaccination in PeduliLindungi are allowed to enter, ruling out children under the age of 12. However, APPBI is now arguing that malls are safe destinations for parents to take their children out of the house for quality family time.

APPBI was at least right in implying the government’s lack of monitoring towards those who have or have been exposed to COVID-19. Following the publication of PeduliLindungi data last week, the government said it would only require the group to isolate if they continue to go out and about despite posing serious risk of infection to others.


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