Gov’t eyes further easing of restrictions as PPKM extended in Java and Bali

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan. Photo: Ministry handout
Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan. Photo: Ministry handout

Gone are the days of weekly extensions of the Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM) in Java and Bali, as the government’s latest update on the pseudo-lockdown policy will see it run from today until at least Oct. 4, and with plans for further lifting of restrictions.

In a press conference this evening, Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who’s overseeing the implementation of PPKM, said the measure has been extended by two weeks — breaking the habit of regular weekly extensions since the height of the coronavirus outbreak in Indonesia in July — pending further bi-weekly extensions.

“But we will evaluate [the policy] weekly to anticipate swift [upticks] in cases,” Luhut said.

Luhut also said that no region in Java and Bali — two islands that have been the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis throughout the pandemic — is under Level 4 of PPKM, which mandates the tightest set of restrictions.

“All regions are under Levels 3 and 2,” he said.

Though not much has changed in Jakarta in the last couple of weeks in regards to PPKM enforcement, the government is now going to trial allowing children under the age of 12 — therefore unvaccinated — into malls under parental supervision in the capital and four other major cities, namely Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya, and Yogyakarta.

The reopening of malls exclusively to vaccinated adults in recent weeks has not been without its faults, specifically in the form of thousands of the unvaccinated and COVID-19 patients being detected by the government’s screening app wanting to partake in the middle class Indonesian past time. 

Nationally, Indonesia has been recording low daily infections for weeks, with its active cases as of Sept. 20 notably down to 55,000 from around 500,000 in July. The country’s daily positive rate from swab tests has also been recorded at below 2 percent lately.

Amid the low numbers, however, CNN Indonesia today rightfully noted that daily COVID-19 figures tend to be especially low every Monday before the government announces the extension of PPKM and various lifting of restrictions. Without admitting that this has been deliberate, government officials have suggested poor data gathering from regions outside Java and Bali to be a possible cause for any discrepancies.

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