Lawmakers with COVID-19 may now choose hotel quarantine, and we’re paying for it

File photo of the House of Parliament building in Jakarta.
File photo of the House of Parliament building in Jakarta.

As the dust settles on the outrage surrounding a proposal for a dedicated COVID-19 hospital for members of the House of Representatives (DPR), the people’s representatives have shown once again that they’re all for exclusivity with the passing of a new rule allowing for lawmakers with COVID-19 to opt for an all-inclusive hotel quarantine package.

DPR Secretary General Indra Iskandar on July 26 released a circular announcing the new benefit, namely that lawmakers or their staff who contract COVID-19 can quarantine in partner three-star hotels. 

Indra argued that lawmakers require isolation facilities due to their high mobility from meeting with their constituents. Lawmakers were previously allowed to isolate at a housing complex in Kalibata, South Jakarta, but Indra said they posed a transmission risk to other residents.

The program is being funded by taxpayers’ money, but Indra stressed that the budget is being allocated from other programs that have been suspended amid the pandemic, such as overseas trips for lawmakers or for seminars.

“So we’re moving those funds around. [Funding for hotel quarantine] is based on contingencies, we’re not budgeting for it as a whole but we may make revisions when it’s necessary,” Indra said.

No lawmaker or their staff have checked in to a hotel with COVID-19 since the circular was published. It appears the DPR outbreak is coming to an end after 523 people, including 30 lawmakers, tested positive for the coronavirus since June.

In July, a lawmaker from the National Mandate Party (PAN) demanded that all members of the DPR be guaranteed a place at an ICU should they need one amid a collapse in the healthcare system. Another lawmaker from the same party also demanded that the government build a special hospital to ward politicians and officials with COVID-19. 

Both demands were rejected after they triggered public outrage.

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