Jakarta returns to partial lockdown as Covid surge strains healthcare system

People walking in front of the monument to the Covid-19 chest on September 10, 2020 in Jakarta.

The Jakarta city government will reimpose large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) across the capital city starting Monday (September 14), following a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in the city.

Since restrictions were eased in June, the number of Covid-19 cases and fatalities in the capital has continued to soar. With Jakarta now finding itself in “times of emergency”, the authorities have reimposed a partial lockdown to prevent further spread of the virus, according to its governor Anies Baswedan.

Jakarta returns to Covid-19 alert as a surge in virus cases pushes the city’s health system to brink of collapse

The Covid-19 task force reported 1,351 fatalities in Jakarta, while the number of new cases had risen from 901 on September 1 to 1,274 on September 10, bringing the city’s tally to 50,671 as of September 10.

“Due to this emergency situation, Jakarta (government) has no choice but to ‘pull the emergency brakes’ as soon as possible,” he said.

Anies revealed that 77 per cent of 4,053 isolation beds in the capital city are currently being occupied, and he feared the city would run out of them by September 17 if no action was taken. He added that local Covid-19 intensive care units could reach capacity by September 15, if cases continue to climb.

During the PSBB, all offices and entertainment venues must be closed, and staff will have to work from home. Only 11 essential businesses, hotels included, will be allowed to open.

Anies said that he would not only strictly limit people’s movement, but also ban all dine-in services at F&B outlets. Worship places and other public facilities will also be shut in a bid to prevent crowds.

Tourism stakeholders in Indonesia backed the governor’s decision, while at the same time, urging firmer enforcement of health and safety measures.

Hasiyanna Ashadi, managing director of Marintur Indonesia, said that the Covid situation could become much graver, if the governor did not reimpose PSBB. She also called for greater surveillance in monitoring the public’s compliance to PSBB, noting that many people are not wearing their masks correctly and do not maintain physical distancing.

However, some industry players pointed out the economic repercussions of reimposing a partial lockdown in the city.

Maulana Yusran, deputy head of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association, said that the move would cause further disruption to the country’s ailing tourism industry.

To mitigate the fallout from the PSBB, he suggested that the Jakarta administration extend relief measures to struggling industry players, such as tax waivers, subsidies, and cash transfers for affected workers.

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