Jakarta likely to be ready for “new normal” phase after Jun 4, says coordinating minister for economy

JAKARTA: Jakarta will likely be able to enter a ”new normal” phase after Jun 4, the last day of COVID-19 curbs known in Indonesia as large-scale social restrictions, the coordinating minister for economic affairs Airlangga Hartarto said on Wednesday (May 27).

Mr Hartarto made the remarks after attending a meeting with President Joko Widodo and several other ministers about the handling of the pandemic.

Since there is no vaccine to contain COVID-19 at the moment, the government will encourage life to go on, taking into account the data analysis and reality on the ground, according to Mr Hartarto.

He said that work is now underway to finalise protocols under a “new normal” scenario. The scenario will apply to regions with a basic reproduction number (R0) of below 1. R0 represents the number of new infections estimated to stem from a single case.

The minister said: “Based on data from the national disaster agency, there are 110 districts and cities which have not yet been affected by COVID-19. These are green zones. These can prepare for new normal activities.”

He added that based on R0 data, some regions are ready for a new normal scenario. These include Jakarta, Aceh, Riau, North Kalimantan, Maluku and Jambi.

He noted that some areas like West Java are still implementing large-scale social restrictions until May 29. “Of course, all regions will follow (in transiting to the new normal), while coordinating with the disaster agency,” Mr Hartarto said.

However, efforts to ease restrictions will be halted should there be a second wave of infections in Indonesia, said the minister.

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His remarks appeared to be an indication of the government’s intention to lift the restrictions next week, bearing in mind the economic cost of a partial lockdown.

Earlier this month, Indonesia’s statistics agency announced the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2020 to be at 2.97 percent year-on-year. This was the lowest since 2001.  

As of Wednesday, Indonesia has 23,851 COVID-19 cases with 1,473 deaths, one of the highest in Asia.

Earlier, Mr Hartarto said that he wanted his ministry to be the pioneer in terms of allowing employees to resume work starting on Wednesday.

After about two months working from home, the ministry’s spokesperson said almost 50 per cent of staff have started working from the office again on Wednesday, with health protocols in place. The rest will continue to work from home.

Passengers stand in line to have documents checked at a Soekarno Hatta Airport amid the coronavirus
Passengers stand in line to have documents checked at a Soekarno Hatta Airport amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 21, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

On Tuesday, Mr Widodo said the military and police will be activated to enforce social distancing measures under a “new normal” scenario.

But Jakarta’s governor Anies Baswedan noted that the deployment of the military and the police does not necessarily mean that the capital city will end the large-scale social restrictions next week.

Mr Baswedan said that whether the restrictions will be lifted or not depends on the people’s behaviour in the following week and only if people obey with the health protocols given, can the capital move to a new normal.

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