Amidst the background of a developing battle against Omicron – the newest strain of the coronavirus – the Indonesian Government has set the new mandatory quarantine period at 10-days, increasing in rapid succession from 3 to 7, and finally to the latest 10-days of “wellness incarceration.”
The 10-day quarantine period applies to Indonesian and foreign nationals arriving internationally in Indonesia.
As reported by NusaBali.com, the expanded period of quarantine has received a less-than-enthusiastic reception in Bali, where the Badung Regency Chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) is urging the Government to moderate the period travelers are required to go into lockdown.
The decision to increase from 7 to 10-days the quarantine period for all arriving travelers was announced by the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, on Thursday, 02 December 2021, following instructions issued by President Joko Widodo. Luhut defended the decision, citing the growing number of countries where the Omicron virus is being discovered.
The Minister said the new 10-day quarantine period takes effect from Friday, 03 December 2021. Adding: “Certainly, the government will periodically reevaluate the new policy (on quarantine) while we continue to understand and internalize information surrounding the new Omicron variant.”
The 10-day quarantine applies to Indonesian citizens and foreigners arriving in Indonesia from countries where the Omicron Variant has yet to be detected. Citizens and travelers who have visited the 11 countries and regions where Omicron has been confirmed are banned from entering Indonesia. The 11 countries and regions are Hong Kong, South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, and Lesotho.
As new cases of Omicron Variant are discovered in new countries worldwide, it may be reasonable to suspect the number of nations and regions blacklisted by Indonesia may be supplemented over time.
Minister Luhut explained that the Indonesian Government has not banned its citizens from traveling abroad but is, nonetheless, urging people to reconsider traveling internationally at this time.
The chairman of the Badung Regency PHRI, I Gusti Agung Rai Suryawijaya, described the new 10-day quarantine as the latest in a long series of challenges and obstacles for Bali’s tourism operators. He went on to compare the economy of Bali to a ship sailing between two coral reefs, trying to navigate a safe course between rival health and economic considerations.
Rai Suryawijaya said the 10-day quarantine period was too burdensome for foreign travelers wishing to holiday in Bali. He said the 10-day quarantine if seen from a business perspective, made no sense at all. And, for that matter, even a 5-day or 3-day quarantine is sufficient to discourage foreign tourists from coming to Bali. But, the PHRI Chairman acknowledged that the Government had its reasons for implementing a quarantine that tourism operators in Bali, like it or not, must support.
“In connection with the PPKM Level 3 lockdown and extending the fluctuating quarantine period that is now 10-days long, this is all dependent on the global situation. The Government has applied the brakes again because public health and the lives of people are involved,” explained Rai Suryawidjaya.
In any case, Rai Suryawijaya hoped the Government would consider the plight of the public and do whatever it could to sustain economic activity. Ideally, he said, the Government is urged to adopt a “middle road” by applying strict health protocols and vaccinating to achieve herd immunity.
Suryawidjaja suggested the Government should limit the number of domestic tourists coming to Bali to no more than 15,000 people each day and 3,000 foreign tourists from countries not afflicted with the Omicron Variant.
The PHRI Chairman said he is worried that the announcement of a partial lockdown of nationwide travel and public activities between 24 December 2021 and 02 January 2021 will further setback Bali’s tourism economy.