A deserted Kota Tua, Jakarta's Old Town, on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak A.)

Jakarta Prepares for Imminent Lockdown

BY :IWAN M PUTUHENA

MARCH 31, 2020

Jakarta. The Indonesian capital Jakarta has been the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the archipelago, with the city of nearly 11 million registering 720 of the 1,414 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country by Monday.

The provincial government, led by Governor Anies Baswedan, has proposed a regional quarantine for Greater Jakarta, which includes satellite cities Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi, to curb the spread of the pandemic. 

On Monday, Anies pleaded to the central government to consider the regional quarantine or lockdown move. 

"What must be underlined is that Covid-19 is spreading in Jakarta at a very worrying rate. The transmission rate is high, and the number of cases continues to surge," Anies said in a news conference at City Hall.

Anies said a regional quarantine will still allow restricted activities in five sectors: energy, food, health, communication and finance.

The Bogor district administration is also preparing itself for a lockdown, which will be launched if the central government approves Jakarta's proposal.

Bogor's deputy mayor, Dedie Rachim, has revealed two plans for the lockdown: closing five main access roads for a lockdown around the city center or closing nine access roads leading to Bogor for a total city lockdown.

"The people of Bogor should not panic. We've prepared everything, including food and other basic supplies," Dedie said on Monday.

Meanwhile, Depok Mayor Mohammad Idris said on Sunday a regional quarantine is the logical option for the city considering the rapid increase of Covid-19 cases in the area.

Idris has submitted a proposal for the Depok lockdown to West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil.

"According to the governor, currently there is no local quarantine policy," Idris said in a press release on Monday.

The Transportation Ministry is also preparing a lockdown scenario for Greater Jakarta.

The director-general of land transportation, Budi Setyadi, said the ministry is coordinating with the National Police to establish checkpoints at toll gates and other access roads to Greater Jakarta.

If a lockdown happens, the police will block people trying to enter or leave the city through those access points.

On Friday, the Indonesian government drafted a regulation on measures and requirements that regional areas have to fulfill before they can enforce a local lockdown. 

The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mahfud M.D., said several regional governments had asked the central government to allow them to enforce a regional quarantine.

"They've submitted proposals [for a regional quarantine] to the government, but the regulation is still unclear," Mahfud said.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Monday ordered a "large-scale" social distancing, which could be followed by a civil emergency if things take turn for the worse, in the face of the rapidly escalating Covid-19 outbreak.

The president also took the opportunity to remind regional government heads that they could not enforce a local lockdown without the consent of the central government.

"I would like to remind people that imposing a regional quarantine is the authority of the central government, not the regional government," Jokowi said.

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