Bali Could Reopen to Domestic Visitors in August

If you’re based in Indonesia, a vacation on the Island of the Gods may become possible just two months down the line.

Sunrise over Mount Agung and rice paddies in Sidemen, east Bali. (Photo: Geio Tischler/Unsplash)

As Indonesia settles into a “new normal” with social-distancing protocols in place, Bali’s provincial governor I Wayan Koster has unveiled a three-stage plan to progressively open up the island from July 9. Through a written statement, he explained that daily life within Bali would likely resume on that date, except for education- and tourism-related activities. Koster said the island could then move to the second phase in August, when its points of entry would be reopened to tourists from other parts of Indonesia. International visitors may be allowed in as soon as September, though provincial authorities would need to coordinate with the national government in Jakarta to lift entry restrictions. Koster cautioned that the timeline for all three stages hinges on Bali’s ability to reduce the level of local transmission and keep infection numbers down.

Since the plan is a preliminary one, no details have been announced on whether domestic travelers would still need to show a certificate with a negative result from a PCR test to enter the island province. A standard swab test in Indonesia currently costs Rp 2.8 million (about US$198), which is slightly more than a return ticket between Jakarta and Bali aboard low-cost carriers such as AirAsia and Citilink.

So far, Bali has not suffered an outbreak on the scale of the ones in Jakarta and Surabaya, Indonesia’s two Covid-19 hot spots with 9,516 and 4,383 cases respectively (as of June 19). Overseas news outlets reported on the island’s “mysterious immunity” to the virus back in April and early May, given nonstop flights from Wuhan that continued for a month after the initial outbreak was reported on December 31, the low numbers of cases on the island, and the observable lack of Covid-19 patients being treated in local hospitals. However, a rise in the number of daily confirmed infections over the past week culminated in a record high of 66 new cases yesterday, contributing to a total of 895 overall, including six deaths.

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