Indonesia plans to impose stricter restrictions from July 3 as Southeast Asia’s most-populous country battles a second wave of coronavirus infections, driven by the more transmissible Delta variant.
The planned new measures, called Pemberlakuan Pembatasan Kegiatan Masyarakat Darurat, or PPKM Emergency public activity restrictions, would likely cover Java and Bali, said a senior government official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The latest restrictions had previously been slated to start three days earlier, on June 30.
The new measures may require all workers in the non-essential sector to work from home and ban dining in at restaurants, a member of Parliament’s (MP) health committee told The Straits Times (ST) separately via text message.
Currently, 25 per cent of a company’s employees are allowed to work from office, and restaurants can operate at 25 per cent capacity.
Domestic air travel will be allowed only for those who have been vaccinated and can produce negative polymerase chain reaction swab test results, the MP added.
June 29’s discussions among ministers on the planned stricter restrictions, ST understands, have been marked by some lobbying by business groups that want the restrictions to be more lenient than the original plan.
This included a suggestion to rethink the plan and instead allow vaccinated employees to work from office, on the basis that an already weak economy and businesses cannot afford to see a further decline in productivity.
Also discussed was whether shopping malls must be shut or can open with a 25 per cent capacity cap.
Under the current colour-coded Covid-19 regime, badly hit regions are red zones that are subject to tougher restrictions – localised lockdowns or PPKM Micro.
Areas that have been designated as red zones include the capital Jakarta, parts of Yogyakarta and the regions of Kudus in Java, Bangkalan on Madura island, Bandung in West Java, and parts of Riau in Sumatra.
Regions with fewer Covid-19 cases are labelled either orange or yellow.
Many have said the current system is no longer effective, and the Red Cross on June 28 said the Delta variant is driving Indonesia closer to the edge of “a Covid-19 catastrophe”.
The mitigation team of the Indonesian Medical Doctors’ Association on June 27 appealed to the government to impose stricter restrictions for at least two weeks, especially in Java.
They said that maximum enforcement is required, as surging cases have overloaded hospitals.
Indonesia on June 27 set a new record for daily coronavirus cases, with more than 21,000, bringing the country’s tally for the pandemic to more than 2.1 million coronavirus cases with 57,138 deaths.
THE STRAITS TIMES (SINGAPORE)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK