'Don't rush in shutting down a city': Jokowi wants local-scale Covid-19 restrictions

President Joko Widodo (right) and his ministers convene in a Cabinet meeting at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Aug 3, 2020.
PHOTO: Presidential Secretariat Press Bureau

President Jokowi Widodo has encouraged regional administrations to implement local-scale social restrictions to contain Covid-19 transmission, instead of the large-scale ones, for “a more detailed handling” of the pandemic.

Jokowi argued that each neighborhood unit or village in a certain region might need different treatment as they experienced a different level of crisis.

“Don't rush in shutting down a city, regency or certain areas. We have to move based on data to make a more effective policy,” Jokowi said during a Cabinet meeting at the State Palace on Monday.

Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto doubled down on Jokowi's message, saying the President had instructed “central government and regional administrations to coordinate well (before) issuing a policy that will affect a wider community”.

“The President asks for local-scale social restrictions, so we will evaluate (the transmission of Covid-19 in around) 83,000 villages and neighborhood units spread across the country,” Airlangga said after the meeting.

The Jakarta administration has decided to “pull the emergency brake” by reimposing large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) starting Monday, in light of the soaring number of new Covid-19 cases and fatalities each day as well as the high percentage of occupied hospital beds in the capital.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan revealed earlier that 77 per cent of 4,053 isolation beds for Covid-19 patients were occupied. The city would soon run out of isolation beds if it did not pull the brake, he claimed.

Based on government data, nearly a quarter of coronavirus infections in Indonesia have occurred in Jakarta, amounting to 54,220 cases. Four of six municipalities in the capital, moreover, were marked “red” in the country's Covid-19 risk mapping system.

Several government officials, however, expressed their concerns regarding the Jakarta administration’s move to partially lock down the city, saying that it could negatively affect the economy.

Airlangga, who also heads the National Economic Recovery and Covid-19 Response Team, said Jakarta’s plan to reimpose the PSBB had caused the stock market to dip.

Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang said he was worried about the potential effects of the PSBB on the improving industrial performance, while Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto warned about the risk of disruption in the distribution channel if PSBB measures were reimposed.

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