Go home: Police across Indonesia disperse gatherings over Covid-19 crisis
The streets are almost empty, public places deserted and malls quiet in cities and regions across Indonesia as authorities have banned gatherings to wind down the spread of the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 600 people and killed 55 to date.
National Police Chief Gen. Idham Aziz recently issued an edict urging the public to refrain from mass gatherings in public places or private properties, including social meetings, workshops and family receptions, and allowing police officers to take strict measures against delinquents.
The edict, dated March 19, has apparently come into effect, with police officers dispersing such gatherings and crowds during their patrols in places across the country.
In East Java's provincial capital of Surabaya, for instance, police shut down a cafe that was still open on Jl. Wiyung-Menganti on early Sunday.
Wiyung Police chief Comr. M. Rasyad led the raid and ordered visitors to pay their bills before telling them to go home.
"We also demanded that the cafe management understand the current COVID-19 emergency circumstances," he said as quoted by kompas.com.
Police officers also suspended a wedding ceremony in Purwokerto, Banyumas regency, Central Java, which involved more than 200 guests that had come in four buses from the city of Wonogiri in the same province.
Banyumas Police chief Comr. Whisnu Caraka said they had come to the event after receiving reports about it from local residents.
Teams from the Banyumas Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) and the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) took further measures by disinfecting the wedding venue and the guests before sending everyone home.
"We blocked the street, we sprayed disinfectants on the people and the buses, we also checked their body temperatures. Thank God, they were all healthy," Wishnu said as quoted by kompas.com.
In the capital -- the hardest-hit by the coronavirus in the country -- the Jakarta Police deployed some 250 officers to conduct raids around the city to dismiss mass gatherings on Sunday.
Jakarta Police general crimes director Sr. Comr. Sayudi Ario Seto said that, in some places, such as the Blok M area in South Jakarta, motorcycle taxi drivers and street vendors still gathered in public places, ignoring the calls for physical distancing.
During the raid, police also disbanded gatherings at cafes and restaurants across the city.
"The [action] proceeded smoothly and [as planned]," he said as quoted by tempo.co.
National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. M. Iqbal said last week that those who insisted on holding mass gatherings would be subject to up to 12 months of imprisonment, as stipulated in articles 212, 216 and 218 of the Criminal Code about defying orders of state authorities.
As of Wednesday, Indonesia recorded 790 cases of COVID-19 infections, with 58 cases that have turned fatal.
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