A quiet shopping mall in Jakarta on March 18. (B1 Photo/Joanito De Saojoao)

Dozens of Malls Reopen in Medan


MAY 29, 2020

Jakarta. At least 14 shopping malls in the North Sumatra capital of Medan partially reopened on Friday amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The provincial shopping mall operators' association claimed Covid-19 health protocols were strictly imposed on visitors, whose number was also limited.

"The procedures on reopening the malls followed the government circular on Covid-19. We limited the number of visitors in accordance with the available spaces to prevent overcrowding," the association's deputy chairperson Liany Simatupang said in Medan.

"All visitors and staff members must [wash hands] with antiseptic, wear face masks at all times inside the mall and keep a safe distance from each other,"  she said.

Mall tenants allowed to reopen were limited to those selling basic commodities and pharmaceutical products, she added.

North Sumatra had 362 confirmed cases of coronavirus including 36 deaths as of Thursday and was ranked 13th in the number of infections among the country's 34 provinces.

In Jakarta, the hardest hit by the outbreak, mall operators also plan to resume operations by June 5, the day after the city's large-scale social restriction expires.

On Tuesday, the Association of Indonesian Shopping Mall Operators (APPBI) chairwoman Ellen Hidayat released a list of 60 malls that will reopen on June 5 and four others on June 8.

However, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan dismissed the plan as "fiction."

"If some people say shopping malls will reopen by June 5... that's fiction," Anies said, adding that no one could guarantee the social restriction won't be extended.

"It's not the provincial government who will decide on the matter. It will depend mainly on people's behavior," Anies said.

Jakarta has reported 7,126 confirmed cases and 509 deaths by Friday.

Separately, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said 60 percent of districts and cities in the province may soon begin phased reopening after reporting lower infection rates in recent days.

"Places of worship and factories will be the first to reopen. Shops, restaurants and malls may follow later," he said on an Instagram post.

On the same day, the governor signed a decree to extend restrictions on non-essential businesses until June 4 in Bekasi, Depok and Bogor that share borders with Jakarta, and until June 12 in the remaining districts and cities.

Meanwhile, South Sulawesi has firmly dismissed calls to reopen malls in the near future.

Cases in the province have been surging in the past week. It overtook Central Java as the fourth most-affected province after Jakarta, East Java and West Java yesterday.