International travelers packed the Soekarno-Hatta Airport yesterday, several viral social media posts have shown, which was said to be the result of last-minute policy changes to international arrivals in Indonesia.
Yesterday, the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced a ban on all international arrivals from Jan. 1 to 14 as the government seeks to prevent an outbreak of the new strain of the coronavirus first discovered in the UK. The ministry’s new policy also required international travelers arriving between Dec. 28 and 31 to undergo a five-day quarantine period at a government-assigned accommodation.
One photo, taken yesterday at Soekarno Hatta’s Terminal 3, has been widely shared on Twitter, showing the arrival hall packed with travelers with little to no room between bodies.
Prominent opposition lawmaker Fadli Zon was among those who reacted to the viral tweet.
Siapa ini yg menyebabkan kerumunan shg bisa melanggar protokol kesehatan? https://t.co/BxedoHhilL
— FADLI ZON (Youtube: Fadli Zon Official) (@fadlizon) December 28, 2020
“Who caused this crowding to happen to the point that health protocols were violated?” he tweeted above.
In a series of Instagram stories, a woman named Cornelia Yang, who was traveling from Singapore to Jakarta, posted photos and videos detailing her arrival at Soekarno-Hatta yesterday.
The posts allege that airport employees were woefully prepared to enforce the new quarantine rule as well as the new requirement to subject travelers to PCR tests upon arrival. Before the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s new policy came into effect, there was no need for quarantine and a negative PCR test result obtained prior to departure sufficed for entry into Indonesia.
Speaking to Coconuts, Cornelia said she booked a one-way ticket from Singapore to Jakarta as she plans to relocate to the Indonesian capital, clarifying that her trip was not for leisure.
Cornelia said she took an antigen swab test and a PCR test prior to her departure in Singapore just to be safe. However, she was not informed about policy changes in Indonesia, which were announced the evening before her flight.
“That’s why [at Soekarno Hatta] we waited in several spots for a long time while the officers [were] discussing how they will proceed,” Cornelia said, adding that the whole process from disembarking the plane to get to her quarantine hotel took around six hours, but stressed that the experience may vary for others.
Cornelia also said she learned that the government will fully subsidize the cost of the quarantine stay only for Indonesian citizens, and not for foreigners. One day into her stay, she does not know yet how much her quarantine will cost.
When asked about the viral posts, Soekarno-Hatta Airport spokesman Haerul Anwar this morning said that the airport management is working to verify the authenticity of the images.
“If [what was shown in the viral posts] were true, I will need information from the field to learn about how it was handled, so I can’t comment right now,” he told Detik.
The Soekarno-Hatta Port Health Office confirmed that authorities took international travelers to quarantine facilities yesterday. Contrary to what the viral photos may suggest, the office said only 200 travelers were placed in quarantine then.
This was not the only occasion this month in which Soekarno-Hatta was packed with travelers amid last-minute regulatory changes. Prior to Christmas, the government enforced a new COVID-19 test requirement for domestic flights, which created long lines for testing booths at the airport with travelers alleging that staff were woefully prepared for the huge turnout.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include statements from Cornelia Yang and the Port Health Office.