Bali currently has the most “red zone” regions across the country, data from Indonesia’s COVID-19 Task Force has revealed, even as coronavirus cases in the province have been gradually declining in recent weeks.
Six of Bali’s nine regions, namely Badung, Klungkung, Karangasem, Tabanan, Buleleng, and Denpasar city, are categorized as red zones this week, out of a total of 15 regions considered high-risk at the national level.
The province is still categorized as a Level 4 under Indonesia’s tiered Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM) protocol, which carries the tightest set of restrictions.
Self-isolation among COVID-19 patients in Bali have been cited as a reason for the recent surge in coronavirus transmissions, which led to officials directing them to centered isolation centers spread across the province.
An official said yesterday that those centers have helped drive down the number of active COVID-19 cases in Bali, which currently stands at 6,371, after it topped 13,000 about a month ago.
Indonesia may have recorded a notable decrease of COVID-19 “red zones” across the country at the end of March, but the number of high-risk areas have doubled again since then with five regions in Bali accounting for half the total.
As of April 11, 10 regencies and cities in Indonesia are deemed as having the highest risk of COVID-19 transmission, five of which are located in Bali: Badung, Gianyar, Buleleng, Tabanan, and Denpasar.
Others in the list are located in North Sumatra, South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan, and South Kalimantan.
The Southeast Asian country categorizes COVID-19 risks across its 314 regencies and cities into four zones, identified as red, orange, yellow, and green — each color corresponding to different risks of transmission, namely high-risk, medium-risk, low-risk, to those reporting zero cases, respectively. Officials said that the zoning system is not based on the number of cases alone.
“This latest development must be followed with consistency and control of COVID-19, whether it’s in the implementation of health protocols or anticipatory policies, as well as behavioral change in regions,” Indonesia’s COVID-19 task force spokesman, Wiku Adisasmito, said during a virtual discussion yesterday.
Despite the remaining red zones in the region, though, restaurants and cafes in Bali are now allowed to operate until midnight, as the government eased restrictions with the latest update of the Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM).
Until at least Oct. 4, dining places located in regions classified as Level 3 and 2 PPKM with later operating hours can remain open until midnight, as laid out in a set of Ministerial Instructions by the Home Affairs Ministry published yesterday.
“[Dining places are allowed to open] with strict health protocols and operational hours from 6pm until maximum of 12am local time,” the provision reads.
There are slight differences in dine-in regulations, depending on whether the restaurant is located in a Level 3 or Level 2 region. Though all visitors and employees must use the integrated health and mobility tracking app PeduliLindungi, maximum capacity of restaurants or cafés in Level 3 regions are capped at 25 percent, with only two patrons allowed at each table and dining time capped at one hour.
In Level 2 regions, dining places can open with a maximum capacity of 50 percent, though dining time remains the same. Technical rules regarding dine-in are further regulated by each regional government.
In a press conference yesterday 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. As of today, all regions in the two islands are under Levels 3 and 2, with the former being enforced in Jakarta.
Well, as weirdly ironic the regulation might sound, we think it’s somewhat inevitably needed in order to keep businesses alive. With almost all of the tourism business practitioners being vaccinated, let’s just hope things well get better soon. Until then, stay safe and healthy. See you!