Top News New Covid variant spooks Indonesia into tightening travel restrictions By Tiara Maharani / Posted on 29 November, 2021 13:31 The quarantine period for travellers arriving into Indonesia has been raised from three days to seven as a new Omicron Covid-19 variant surfaces. Taking effect from November 29, the tightened regulations apply to international travellers and returning Indonesians from countries other than South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini, Malawi, Angola, Zambia and Hong Kong, which have declared cases. Travellers entering Indonesia must now serve a longer quarantine on arrival Foreigners from countries with Omicron Covid-19 variant cases will be barred, while returning Indonesians will have to serve a 14-day quarantine. Indonesia’s tougher stance on international travel came amid a protest led by Bali’s travel industry, whose representatives have issued a petition to president Joko Widodo to revise the country’s entry policy, including scraping the quarantine requirement. In the open letter to the president, 34 tourism-related associations belonging to the Bali Rise Forum raised five major requests. Stakeholders asked for the government to provide a special paid e-visa facility without requiring travellers to go through corporate guarantors or re-impose visa-on-arrival and free visas, especially to travellers from low risk countries. They also suggested that fully vaccinated foreigners with proof of negative PCR tests be exempted from quarantine, or at least be allowed to quarantine on the island instead of within a hotel. Other key requests included allowing transit passengers at hub/transit countries to continue onwards to Bali after a maximum of 12 hours interval; adding travel-ready countries to the list of those eligible to travel to Indonesia; and lowering the minimum insurance coverage from US$100,000 to US$50,000. Agus Yoga Iswara, Bali Rise Forum coordinator, said the open letter represented the anxiety of tourism stakeholders in Indonesia, particularly those in Bali. “Our evaluation showed there was a policy discrepancy that resulted in the implementation of open borders being less than optimal. The regulations…have made it difficult for foreign tourists to come to Bali,” said Yoga. Addressing concerned industry stakeholders, Sandiaga Uno, minister of tourism and creative economy, explained that the government did not want to rush into taking an open border policy just to attract foreign tourists. A cautious approach was still needed so as to protect the local community. “Policies are made with prudence and vigilance,” he stated.