Asia Minute: Jakarta Extends Restrictions

Apr 23, 2020

Indonesia is suspending domestic and international air and sea travel because of COVID-19. The government made that announcement today — shortly after the governor of Jakarta extended social distancing restrictions.

By now, many of the rules have a near universal familiarity. Stay at home if you can, only essential businesses are allowed to remain open, only take-out food at restaurants, and if you must go out, wear a mask and no gathering in groups.

For Jakarta, those rules have only been in place for a couple of weeks. Now they’re extended through at least Friday May 22nd. Enforcement is also being stepped up – no more warnings, now fines can go to more than 6,000 U.S. dollars along with up to a year in prison.

Indonesia was slow to react to the novel coronavirus, and still has a very low rate of testing.

The country has more than 7,400 cases and nearly 650 deaths — roughly half of those numbers come from Jakarta.

The timing of the extended rules is significant – the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is about to get underway. After the month of daytime fasting and other observances, it’s traditional for people to return to their hometowns for the celebration of Eid.

But as with so much else in the world, this year is different.

The government is not banning all travel, but it is restricting movement in and out of areas hit hard by COVID-19 — what it calls “red zones.” And right now, the country’s biggest red zone surrounds its capital city of Jakarta.