Asia Minute: Indonesia’s Ambitions Outpacing Testing

May 14, 2020

While most states are starting to re-open their economies, many of them have not seen a consistent decline in the number of new cases of coronavirus. A similar pattern is emerging in some countries — including Indonesia.

Indonesia reported nearly 700 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday – the biggest daily rise in that number since the start of the pandemic. Total cases are heading towards 16,000, with more than a thousand deaths.

In the same week Indonesia’s health minister announced those figures, a special adviser to the Economic Minister said the country is working on a plan to re-open businesses. The current target is to restore “business as usual” by the end of July — a goal many critics call unrealistic.

Indonesia has been slower than many countries to test widely for the virus, and Jakarta has been a hot zone for new cases.

The government says the pace of re-opening will depend on fulfilling public health metrics – including “flattening the curve” of new cases. But under the tentative plan, shopping malls could open in about three weeks — museums and schools with a staggered schedule about a week later.

Next up would be restaurants, bars, cafes and gyms — all opening in early July.

Business leaders remain anxious to re-start the economy, but cautious about the timeline. A top official of the Indonesian Employers Association told the Jakarta Post that, “there is no point if businesses are ready, but consumers do not want to go out and start shopping again.”