Jakarta. The Indonesian government on Monday decided to relax a bit the community restrictions amid a steady decline in newly Covid-19 cases, allowing a greater capacity for malls, restaurants and worship places across Java and Bali.
The partial lockdown, locally abbreviated as PPKM, has been in place since July 3 when the Delta variant began to rage in the country’s two most populated islands. It has since been extended multiple times, including by another week in Monday’s announcement.
But some flexibility is coming into effect from Tuesday, with malls and worship places allowed to receive visitors at 50 percent of their capacity from previously 25 percent, according to chief investment minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan.
Luhut, who is responsible for Covid-19 response in Java and Bali, said the decision was taken on encouraging figures, including a 76 percent drop in daily cases and a 53 percent decline in the total number of active cases from their peak.
“The number of recoveries is increasing while at the same time we see a steady decline in the positivity rate, hospital admissions, new infections and daily death toll in nearly all provinces across Java and Bali,” Luhut told a news conference.
“But data on the ground leave plenty of room for improvement in certain regions. We have taken intervening actions by mobilizing self-isolating patients to government-appointed isolation centers and making sure the adequate supply of medication and oxygen concentrators in a hope that by next week we will see significant improvement especially in Bali and Greater Malang [in East Java],” Luhut added.
He said in Bali alone around 1,400 Covid-19 patients have been transferred to centralized isolation facilities in the resort island for better treatment and control.
Luhut said public mobility has returned to the level when the Delta variant has not become a dominant strain in new cases and deaths.
“On one hand, it indicates a rapid economic recovery but on the other hand it brings a serious risk of another surge in newly cases in the next two or three weeks,” he said.
Accordingly, restrictions will continue until August 23 with some flexibility.
Mall visitors still have to show their vaccination status in government app “Peduli Lindungi” (to care and protect) which tells if the user is vaccinated or not.
Mall reopening trial has run smoothly in the past week with more than 1 million visitors checking into the app for entry, Luhut said.
Indoor on-site dining is restricted to 25 percent of restaurant capacity “or two persons per table”, he added. Previously, restaurants could only serve takeaway or delivery orders while sit-down meals and drinks were limited to outdoor seating only.
Face covering is mandatory in all indoor settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain like malls and worship places.
“I need to underline that as long as the Covid-19 pandemic exists, the PPKM will continue to become government’s main tool to control public mobility and activity,” Luhut said.
Earlier in the day, the country reported 17,384 cases in the past 24 hours, the lowest daily tally since June 23, to take its total to 3.87 million.
A further 1,245 Covid patients have died in the one-day period, bringing the total death toll to 118,833 countrywide.
The daily death toll is trending down to the lowest figure since July 18, but it has been topping 1,000 since exactly a month ago.