Bali’s tourism workers have been vaccinated as of this week, the province’s health agency chief has confirmed, as officials continue to gear up for the possibility of restarting full-scale tourism on the island.
“Right now, we can pretty much say that a hundred percent of the tourism workforce in Bali have been vaccinated,” Bali Tourism Agency Chief I Putu Astawa said.
It’s probably wise to be a little skeptical, especially when officials in Bali have actually stretched vaccination numbers before.
With Bali’s economy and tourism industry deeply battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, hopes for a full reopening (that includes foreign tourists) have been expressed far and wide across the province.
A number of plans to reopen since the pandemic began had to be pushed back several times, as cases continue to soar on the island after periods of relatively low transmissions. The last couple of months, however, saw the worst toll of the pandemic yet for the island, though the public health crisis has been gradually easing recently.
“One of the ways deemed most effective to prevent COVID-19 transmission is with vaccination programs to develop herd immunity in the tourism sector,” Astawa said.
In accordance with this, the Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno said officials have yet to decide on a specific timeline to welcome foreign tourists to the island.
Indonesia’s central government has downgraded Bali to Level 3 of the Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM), meaning that more curbs are being relaxed, including at tourist attractions and cinemas.
“The government has managed to downgrade Bali Province to Level 3,” Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said during a press conference last night.
“This is the fruit from all parties working together to keep PPKM effective.”
Bali had mostly been under Level 4 PPKM — the highest level — ever since the four-tiered restrictions system was introduced in late July.
The Bali Provincial Government has yet to issue an official circular regarding this latest weekly PPKM extension, the latest of which is set to last until Sept. 20. However, the central government says that tourist attractions in Level 3 regions are allowed to reopen with strict health protocols and screening using the integrated health and mobility tracking app PeduliLindungi. In addition, cinemas in Level 3 regions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited at 50 percent.
In the past week, Bali recorded a significant drop in new infections, ranging between 150 and 300 daily. The province has also been prepping for eased restrictions in public facilities, with trial runs of reopening in malls and also tourist spots.
Gone are the days of weekly extensions of the Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM) in Java and Bali, as the government’s latest update on the pseudo-lockdown policy will see it run from today until at least Oct. 4, and with plans for further lifting of restrictions.
In a press conference this evening, Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who’s overseeing the implementation of PPKM, said the measure has been extended by two weeks — breaking the habit of regular weekly extensions since the height of the coronavirus outbreak in Indonesia in July — pending further bi-weekly extensions.
“But we will evaluate [the policy] weekly to anticipate swift [upticks] in cases,” Luhut said.
Luhut also said that no region in Java and Bali — two islands that have been the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis throughout the pandemic — is under Level 4 of PPKM, which mandates the tightest set of restrictions.
“All regions are under Levels 3 and 2,” he said.
Though not much has changed in Jakarta in the last couple of weeks in regards to PPKM enforcement, the government is now going to trial allowing children under the age of 12 — therefore unvaccinated — into malls under parental supervision in the capital and four other major cities, namely Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya, and Yogyakarta.
The reopening of malls exclusively to vaccinated adults in recent weeks has not been without its faults, specifically in the form of thousands of the unvaccinated and COVID-19 patients being detected by the government’s screening app wanting to partake in the middle class Indonesian past time.
Nationally, Indonesia has been recording low daily infections for weeks, with its active cases as of Sept. 20 notably down to 55,000 from around 500,000 in July. The country’s daily positive rate from swab tests has also been recorded at below 2 percent lately.
Amid the low numbers, however, CNN Indonesia today rightfully noted that daily COVID-19 figures tend to be especially low every Monday before the government announces the extension of PPKM and various lifting of restrictions. Without admitting that this has been deliberate, government officials have suggested poor data gathering from regions outside Java and Bali to be a possible cause for any discrepancies.
Well, seems like we’re ready for reopening, finally. What do you think? Let us know in the comment. Until next time, stay safe and healthy. See you lots later!