As many as 59 countries have shut their borders to Indonesian travelers, the Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed, with Indonesia’s worryingly high number of coronavirus infections and its handling of the pandemic touted as major factors behind the ban.
Among the 59 countries are neighbors and strategic partners Malaysia and Australia, as well as Indonesian travelers’ favored destinations like Japan.
Malaysia’s ban of Indonesian travelers came into effect on Monday after it announced last week a new policy banning arrivals from countries with high rates of coronavirus infections. Other countries included in Malaysia’s latest traveler ban include India and the Philippines.
Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi pointed out that the travel ban by the 59 countries shouldn’t affect Indonesians at this time.
“We are also urging Indonesians not to travel internationally unless absolutely necessary,” she said yesterday.
That said, Retno revealed that talks are underway with some of the 59 countries to loosen their restrictions on Indonesian travelers, especially for official and strategic visits.
“The point is that the economy must keep going without compromising health,” she said.
Indonesia currently has in place a ban on non-essential foreign arrivals, which has been enforced since April.
For a time, it looked like the ban was going to be reversed to boost Indonesia’s flailing tourism industry, with the reopening of Bali to foreign tourists in September. However, that plan has been postponed as Indonesia’s borders remain closed until at least the end of 2020.
As of Sep. 8, Indonesia has 200,035 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with a daily count increase of around 3,000 the norm in the past couple of weeks. The country’s death toll from the disease has reached 8,230, while 142,958 have recovered.