Reckless Disregard For Public Safety

A wide array of local media in Bali have carried reports of how Kuta Police, local government administration from the village of Canggu, and the Badung Regency Enforcement Agency (Satpol PP Badung) undertook a coordinated raid at a party in full swing at the Old Man’s Restaurant on Batu Bolong Beach in North Kuta on the night of Wednesday, 10 June 2020.

Hundreds of customers – predominately foreigners, were seen attending the event on videos available on the Internet, not wearing masks, and ignoring physical distancing. When authorities arrived on the scene, the partygoers were expelled, with local enforcement officials upset with the club’s operators and the partygoers’ flagrant disregard for stringent measures in place in most areas of the Island to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The head of the North Kuta Police Precinct, Commissioner Marzel Doni, quoted by NusaBali, said the raid and crowd dispersal was coordinated with the Badung Enforcement Agency (Satpol PP Badung) and local officials of Canggu Village.

Continuing, Doni commented on the day following the raid: “We are living amid the Covid-19 Pandemic. One of the health protocols is to avoid crowds. Because of this, the police, working with the local Government, dispersed the crowd and ended the activity at the restaurants in Canggu last night.”

Police Commissioner Doni pointed out that the restaurant’s limited permission to reopen provided only for a maximum occupancy of 20-25 guests at the restaurant. Doni said that the actual attendance at the time of the raid was some 50-100 guests, while videos and reports in the local press suggest the crowd numbered in the hundreds.

The chief of Badung’s Satpol PP, I Gusti Agung Kerta Suryanegara, confirmed that the restaurant had been permitted to open between 3:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Open without incident for three days, on the night of Wednesday, 10 June 2020, the management of Old Man’s Bar launched a free drink promotion that caused a not unanticipated surge in visitors.

The police said the restaurant was issued a formal reprimand and warning issued by uniformed law enforcement officials.

Old Man’s Bar management, while promoting the evening on social media, promised that admission would be strictly limited “to ensure the health and safety of everyone.” Promises quickly forgotten, videos show long lines down the sidewalk of guests entering the Bar and a very crowded area inside the premises where masks and physical distance were largely ignored.

Tudor Morrow, the Bar’s Manager, disingenuously explained to a local news source Coconut Bali: “Unfortunately, due to the amount of people and the fact we were way understaffed, we were totally overwhelmed. We had all COVID-19 health and safety measures in place with regard to hygiene and social distancing, but unfortunately couldn’t stop the customers with our few staff.”

Continuing, Morrow tried to brush aside the gravity of his failure to safeguard the safety of his staff, his customers, and the larger community, saying: “Moving forward, we will enforce stricter policies at the entrance and limit the numbers inside the venue. I hope this problem will be resolved quickly, and Bali [will] recover from the damage that the [coronavirus] has caused to its people and the economy.”

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