Masks can remain off outdoors, Indonesia’s health minister clarifies

Indonesia’s Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin. Photo: Ministry of Health
Indonesia’s Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin. Photo: Ministry of Health

We don’t have to don our masks outdoors, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said today, setting the record straight amid a lack of clarity about the policy.

On Friday, Vice President Ma’ruf Amin said the government may consider reinstating the mandatory mask policy — even outdoors — amid rising COVID-19 infections in the country. While masking up is still mandatory in indoor public spaces, Indonesians have been allowed to remove their face coverings outdoors since May.

Many in the country seem to have misinterpreted Ma’ruf’s comment, in large part due to mainstream media reporting that the vice president has officially tightened mask regulations when he actually hasn’t.

“There have been no changes to policies regarding masks from the last government announcement. So it’s still permissible to take off the mask outdoors,” Budi said at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta today.

Under the latest rules, masks are still mandatory in enclosed spaces, including on public transportation. Those with health risks, including the elderly, as well as those who show even the mildest symptoms known to be associated with COVID-19, are still advised to mask up wherever they go.

Indonesia has consistently recorded around 2,000 new COVID-19 cases daily over the past couple of weeks, which represents a rise from earlier this year but is still far lower than the devastating numbers in 2021. 

Separately, President Joko Widodo today called on the government to push the distribution of booster vaccines, with the country expected to see significant increase in infections in the third week of July due to the proliferation of the Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

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