President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announces an extension of Level 4 PPKM on Tuesday in a televised briefing Tuesday. (B1 Photo)

Jokowi Extends Restrictions to July 25 as Covid-19 Pandemic Rages On


JULY 21, 2021

Jakarta. The government has decided to extend strict restrictions on community activities by five days until July 25 before gradually relaxing them should the pandemic shows signs of subsiding and regions' mitigation capacity improves, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said on Tuesday. 

The resident said the previous two-week strict restrictions imposed since July 3 — previously known as PPKM Darurat before changed into Level 4 PPKM — were difficult but unavoidable to contain the novel-coronavirus spread.


"This is done to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 and reduce the public's need for treatment in hospitals," Jokowi said.  

More than 90 percent of beds allocated for Covid-19 patients in Java were full, with hospitals struggle to get critical supplies like oxygen and medicines. 

Since the beginning of PPKM Darurat, the government had increased the number of beds by 35 percent to more than 127,000, data from the Ministry of Health showed. It also improved testing capacity and distributed free medicines for patients with mild symptoms to isolate at home. 

"Thank God, we are grateful that after the emergency PPKM was implemented, the [bed occupancy rate] has decreased," Jokowi said.

The ministry data showed bed occupancy ratio across Indonesia dropped slightly to 74 percent on Tuesday from 75 percent at the beginning of PPKM Darurat.

The occupancy rate in Java improved the most, with Banten reporting its rate dropped to 85 percent from 92 percent, Jakarta to 81 percent from 88 percent, and Central Java to 75 percent from 86 percent.

Still, hospitals in those provinces remain critical, and a sudden surge in new cases would overrun those facilities again. The health ministry only considers hospitals with a lower than 60 percent of occupancy rate as adequate. 

During PPKM Darurat, Indonesia saw the daily new cases number increase two-fold to around 50,000 a day.  

Indonesia saw more than 560,000 new cases last week alone, almost as many as the number of new cases in June. The country's death toll has moved up past 1,000 per day and, for some days, was higher than those reported by any country in the world. 

Level 4 PPKM

Jokowi said he expected the situation would improve soon so the government can ease the restriction gradually, depend on the pandemic situation in each district, city, or province.

"We always monitor to understand the dynamics in the field, and listen to the voices of the community affected by PPKM. Therefore, if the trend of cases continues to decline, then on July 26, the government will allow gradual reopening," Jokowi said. 

Under new guidelines from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the region would impose restrictions, or PPKM, in foul levels of stringency. Today's PPKM Darurat would be their strictest level or Level 4 PPKM.

These include online classes for all students and work from home for workers in non-essential sectors. Malls and traditional markets should remain closed, except for stores that sell staple foods and daily essentials.

Restaurants and food stalls only serve takeaways, while all entertainment centers, public parks must remain closed. Public prayers, weddings, and other public gatherings are forbidden. Public transport only operates at 70 percent of capacity. At the same time, travelers between districts or cities must be fully vaccinated or carrying one-day-old Covid-19 test results showing they are free of the coronavirus. 

The decision to relax the restrictions would consider several metrics, including the number of cases per 100,000 people in a week and the weekly number of Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospital per 100,000 population. 

"[The number of new cases] is for determining the pandemic's transmission level... while the number of patients would serve as a leading indicator for a surge in cases," Jodi Mahardi, the spokesman for Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment, said on Wednesday. 

The government would also consider the bed occupancy ratio to gauge a region's capacity to handle the pandemic. Lastly, the government would also consider "people's psychological condition" for relaxing or tightening the restrictions. 

Level 3 PPKM

Should the government decide to relax its restrictions next Sunday, several business premises could serve more patrons. 

"Traditional markets, apart from those selling basic daily needs, are allowed to open until 03:00 p.m. with a maximum capacity of 50 percent, under strict health protocols set by the regional government," Jokowi said. Today, only those selling staple and daily essentials are allowed to open at a maximum of 50 percent of capacity. 

In addition, street vendors, grocery stores, voucher agents or outlets, barbershops, laundry services, hawkers, small workshops, vehicle washing services, and other similar small businesses are allowed to open with strict health protocols until 09:00 p.m., with the local government making the technical arrangements.

"Food stalls, street vendors, hawker stalls and the like that have their place of business in an open space are allowed to open with strict health protocols until 21.00, and a maximum meal time for each visitor is 30 minutes," he said. Under the current level 4 restrictions, the services must cap their capacity at 30 percent, and food stalls can only serve take-aways.