Jakarta. The government is considering reducing the mandatory quarantine period for arriving international travelers, either Indonesian citizens or foreigners, to five days from eight, in a move to reinvigorate international business and tourism activities.
Airlangga Hartarto, the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, said that President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo favored the move when discussed in a regular cabinet economic meeting on Thursday.
"We discussed the quarantine period during the meeting. After the discussion, our position fell onto reducing the period to five days," Airlangga said.
Still, Airlangga said that the plan to shorten the quarantine period plan was still pending coordination between the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Ministry of Transportation.
The minister commented Bali, the country's main attraction, is set to open for international flights next week after being closed off for more than a year.
Alexander Kaliaga Ginting, the head of the health division of the Covid-19 Handling Task Force, said that the government needs to consult virologists before reducing the quarantine period for foreign arrivals.
"We are still waiting for opinions from the expert board of epidemiologists and virology doctors, who are members of BNPB," Alexander said on Friday.
"If we shorten the quarantine period, but it turns out that [the virus'] incubation period is long, we'll be doomed. So, we shouldn't make decisions hastily and all of that must also be based on research from whole-genome sequencing (WGS)," Alexander said.
Today, foreigners or locals arriving from abroad are required to stay in isolation for eight days. Hotel operators said the quarantine period was too long for visitors to consider coming to Indonesia.
"In addition to being expensive, this is also time-consuming for foreign tourists. They come from far away, then the time of their visit is cut by the quarantine period before they can travel," Maulana Yusran, the secretary-general of Indonesia Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI), said earlier.
The association expected the government to make a change in its quarantine policy. Apart from cutting it short, Yusran said the government should implement an area quarantine policy. So instead of being confined in a hotel room, visitors can still roam free within a restricted area.
"In Bintan, [Riau Islands], there are hotels with golf resorts and all kinds of entertainments. So, if they have to be quarantined, they can still enjoy many activities. In Bali, we also have areas like Nusa Dua, so in one area, they can still carry out their activities during the quarantine period," Yusran said.