Jakarta Considers Weekend Lockdowns

Despite the latest round of restrictions, the Indonesian capital has been logging more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases per day.

Photo: Gede Suhendra/Unsplash

Authorities in Jakarta are reportedly open to imposing strict lockdowns over the weekend, after Indonesian President Joko Widodo admitted that the “PPKM” social-distancing restrictions in place since January 11 had failed to stem the spread of Covid-19 across Java and Bali. There are now more than 175,000 active cases countrywide, and recent days have seen both the daily count of new infections and virus-related deaths surge to record levels.

Jakarta’s vice-governor Ahmad Riza Patria, who has recovered from Covid-19 since testing positive last November, agreed that the PPKM had proven ineffective in the Indonesian capital. “The reality is that the regulation does not work. The mobility of residents on the streets is still high every day,” he said in a statement yesterday. “The level of transmission is getting out of control.”

The suggestion for weekend lockdowns originally came from the Indonesian Parliament, which was inspired by Turkey’s nationwide stay-at-home orders in December as the numbers of deaths and newly confirmed Covid-19 cases reached record highs. Those curfews began at 9 p.m. on Fridays and ended at 5 a.m. the following Monday, with residents only permitted to leave their homes to perform essential work or to seek urgent medical care.

Jakarta is by far the hardest-hit Indonesian province in terms of cumulative cases, with just over 280,000 infections as of today. Public hospitals across the capital have been struggling to handle the influx of patients from the city and its surroundings; the latest data from Jakarta health authorities shows that isolation wards are 75 percent full and the bed occupancy rate for ICUs citywide now stands at 82 percent.

The vice-governor railed against residents who ignored recommendations to stay at home over the weekend. “Not only do they go to the market, or the mall, but also to recreational places, [and they] visit relatives or go out of town,” he said. But it is not likely that any lockdowns will be imposed in time for the Chinese New Year holiday from February 13–15, as officials need some time to conduct feasibility studies before reaching a final decision.

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