Indonesian trade players seek end to capacity restrictions

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

Indonesian travel associations are pushing for a revocation of the government’s Large-Scale Social Restriction (PSBB), saying that enforcement is weak among the public and commercial entities should not be the only ones made to comply.

The request surfaced after a number of mass gatherings were held, including a 10,000-pax wedding ceremony for the daughter of Rizieq Shihab, the leader of the Islamic Defenders Front.

Enforcement of health and safety protocols is inconsistent, with hospitality businesses made to comply more than members of the public

Hariyadi B Sukamdani, chairman of the Visit Wonderful Indonesia Board, noted that there were gaps in enforcement. While firm action is taken against violations of health protocols committed by industry players, enforcement appears less stringent in the community.

Citing an example, he said the Jakarta regional government had fined and closed several cafes that failed to comply with the 50 per cent capacity limit. “Yet, the mass gathering of up to thousands of people was allowed to take place,” he remarked.

“The PSBB does not need to be continued because is it not running as it should. We request that all activities in the tourism sector be returned to normal conditions, where there are no restrictions on business hours and (capacity),” he said.

Budihardjo Iduansjah, chairman of the Indonesian Shopping Center Tenants Association (Hippindo), also questioned the government’s quality of enforcement. He expressed that Hippindo members have been obeying health and safety protocols and investing in assurance tools, in addition to maintaining visitor limits. “Meanwhile, (crowding in the) community without health protocols is left (unchecked),” he said.

Budihardjo also took issue with the Jakarta government’s Rp50 million (US$3,533) penalty for Transitional PSBB violations, saying that “it is unclear how (they) are imposed”.

Despite challenges to business the health and safety restrictions pose, Tony Sumampau, president director of Taman Safari Indonesia II Prigen, stressed that his team has been compliant, as they recognised that they must provide a sense of security to visitors.

But for the health and safety protocols to be effective, both commercial entities and members of the public must abide by them, noted Hariyadi.

Echoing the views of fellow industry stakeholders, Elly Hutabarat, chairman of The Indonesian Travel Agents Association, said the revocation of PSBB would allow the travel and tourism industry to recover its operational capacity and begin mending business dents.

Association heads emphasised that with or without PSBB, travel and tourism players will continue to maintain strict health and safety protocols in accordance with government regulations.

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