Local News

Indonesian government bans foreign flights to start new year

The Central Government of Indonesia has ordered the temporary closure of all foreign flights scheduled to arrive between January 1-14 2021.

The decision was made following the discovery of a new variant of Covid-19 which has spread to several countries.

Since the new variant of the virus first surfaced in England, the Indonesian government had initially prohibited visitors from the UK in entering Indonesian territory.

As more countries in Europe and across the world have started detecting the new strain, Indonesia has resorted to additional safety measures.

In a virtual press conference on Monday (28/12), Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi stated “All international flights scheduled to Indonesia on January 1-14, 2021 will be put on hold.”

All visitors arriving in Indonesia until December 31 are required to present a negative-result PCR test taken no longer than two days prior to departure.

Upon landing, they will then be re-examined at the airport and required to quarantine for the next five days at an accommodation arranged by the government.

Following the isolation period, a second PCR test will be conducted to confirm a negative result before the visitor is permitted to move freely in Indonesia.

“These rules are in accordance with the Covid-19 Task Force Regulation Number 3 of 2020 concerning the Health Protocol for Travel During Christmas and New Year Holiday,” said Marsudi.

The travel restriction does not only apply to foreigners, Indonesian citizens returning to the country are also confined by the regulation.

Official government visits at the ministerial level are the only exemption during this time. (Thebalisun.com 29/12/2020)

Indonesian tourism minister visits Bali to discuss reopening for international tourism

President Joko Widodo has recently appointed a new Tourism Minister, Sandiaga Uno – previous Vice Governor of Jakarta, to stimulate the tourism industry in Indonesia.

As Indonesia’s prime tourist destination, Uno made a trip to Bali to analyze and discuss the reopening of the island to international tourism.

Today (27/12) marks Uno’s first appearance in Bali as Tourism Minister, as he arrived to evaluate the performance of safety measures and prevention protocols on the island.

The objective of this visit is to assess airport and hospitality regulations to verify that Bali is safe and ready to reopen.

“I believe the most integral constituent for Bali is to enforce all health and safety protocols as the island is considered as the main tourist destination for both domestic and international tourists” said Uno.

Uno plans to establish communication with the Governor of Bali, Wayan Koster, and the Maritime and Investment Coordinator Minister, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, to discuss the possibility of reopening which he says is his number one priority during this visit.

“I’m also concerned about the people in Bali that have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. I hope people will stay patient as I try to find solutions” Sandiaga added.

After inspecting Ngurah Rai International Airport, along with several tourist attractions, Uno admitted that the execution of protocol is strictly enforced.

He also noted that Bali has sufficiently managed the influx of domestic tourists this holiday season. (Thebalisun.com 28/12/2020)

Family on motorbike injured by collapsed tree in Bali

A family of three was traveling on motorbike in Jalan Ratulangi Singaraja, Buleleng District when a large tree collapsed directly on them.

The victims were rushed to Buleleng Public Hospital, unconscious and injured by the unpredictable incident.

The accident occurred at 10:22pm on Friday (25/12) as a tamarind tree, 4 meters in height and 80 cm in diameter, abruptly subsided, trapping the family underneath.

The victims, I Komang Reditya (40), I Ketut Widiartawan (20) and Ni Luh Budiasih (18) suffered serious injury and lost consciousness from the impact.

The motorbike driven by Reditya, was headed north when it arrived at the Penarukan Traffic Light where the accident occured.

Bypassers at the location immediately rushed to help the victims out from under the log and branches.

The Head of Singaraja Police Department, I Made Santika, said that all of the victims are currently at the hospital receiving medical assistance. “They’ve regained consciousness now,” Made Santika said.

Buleleng Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) deployed 20 officers to evacuate the logs and branches from the scene.

Head of Buleleng BPBD, Ida Bagus Suadnyana, said that it took one hour to finally clear the branches from the street. (Thebalisun.com 26/12/2020)

Bali launches new Denpasar to Ubud bus route

The Gianyar Regency Transportation has collaborated with Denpasar City Transportation to develop a new Denpasar – Ubud travel route for the Trans Metro Dewata Bus in Bali. The plan was initiated to enhance public transportation while reducing road traffic.

During a press conference on Wednesday (23/12), the Head of Gianyar Transportation Agency, I Wayan Suamba, announced that the new bus route will officially operate starting Sunday (27/12).

The new public transportation, TEMAN, is an acronym for Economic, Easy, Reliable and Comfortable Bus (Transportasi Ekonomis, Mudah, Andal dan Nyaman Bus).

The program’s mission is to reduce traffic on roads by offering alternative land transportation methods to decrease the number of on-road vehicles.

“The traffic in Ubud is awful, so we hope this program will help reduce congestion in that area,” Suamba said. The trial period will start on Sunday, in which passengers can ride the bus free of charge.

In the future, bus fare will be paid through the e-money card, the same method used for toll-roads.

“We will facilitate 29 buses for frequent operations, with an additional three buses on standby in case a bus needs maintenance” Suamba added.

The Teman Bus route will provide 32 bus stops along Denpasar and Ubud. All buses are equipped with safety and security devices including CCTV cameras and smoke detectors.

The bus will arrive at each stop every 8 – 10 minutes, avoiding long wait times. “Teman Bus will operate from 5:00am to 7:00pm daily. Before using this bus, passengers need to install the Teman Bus app on their smartphones” Suamba concluded. (Thebalisun.com 24/12/2020)

Denpasar City to postpone schools reopening until March, citing high transmission rate in the city

Schools across Indonesia can reopen and conduct face-to-face learning starting in January, but officials in Denpasar say they’re postponing until at least March due to high COVID-19 transmission rate in the city.

“Based on deliberations from relevant parties, we will postpone face-to-face learning until March 2021,” I Wayan Gunawan, the chief of Denpasar’s Education, Youth and Sports Agency said today.

Data from the city’s Health Agency show that COVID-19 transmission rate in the city is at 26.3 percent, which they explain as 26 people testing positive for the coronavirus for every 100 people tested. It should be noted here that a lack of testing has been cited as an issue throughout Indonesia’s handling of the pandemic.

“Imagine if the kids test positive for COVID-19, they have to go into isolation or be treated in the hospital without [their parents], how it will affect their mental health. So we are prioritizing the children’s health,” Gunawan said.

In neighboring Badung regency, as many as 70 teachers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 out of a total of 2,559 who underwent testing in the past two weeks. Officials say the positivity rate among teachers remains low — at 2.57 percent — based on those numbers, adding that the teachers may have been infected by their household members as they have been working from home. In addition, teachers who tested positive were placed in isolation at a quarantine facility. (Coconuts.co 26/12/2020)

Passengers form long queues to take antigen rapid tests in Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport

Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport has not been spared from long queues following Indonesia’s new (and rushed) travel requirement for the year-end holiday. In the days since it was enforced, passengers ended up forming long lines to take the antigen rapid tests prior to their trips.

Several videos from this morning alone are already making their rounds on Instagram, showing passengers waiting in line for the antigen rapid tests. Some of the clips show the absence of social distancing between passengers, and some wrote on their posts that they’ve been waiting for hours just to get queue numbers for the actual test.

On Dec. 19, the National COVID-19 Task Force enforced a new regulation for all travelers, including those traveling by air, to present the negative result of an antigen rapid test that must be taken at most three days prior to departure. The rule applies to all trips into and within Java and Bali, with one notable exception being that air travelers heading to the Island of the Gods must present a negative PCR test result, which is valid for seven days.

The new rules were laid out in a circular, which set the Christmas and New Year break period to begin on Dec. 19 and last until Jan. 8. It should be noted, however, that Bali provincial government’s circular on the matter, first issued on Dec. 15 and later modified that same week, stated that the requirements are applicable until Jan. 4.

These last-minute restrictions also led to long queues forming in Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport yesterday morning, with travelers alleging that airport staff were not ready for the turnout.

The antigen rapid test, also known as antigen swab test, is conducted by taking samples of secretions from the nose and throat to detect the presence of certain viral antigens that indicate a current viral infection. According to reports, the antigen rapid test at Ngurah Rai costs IDR170K (US$12), and results can be obtained in an hour.

This type of test is more expensive than the antibody rapid test, but cheaper than the PCR swab test, which costs about IDR900K (US$63). In general, however, the test is not considered to be as accurate as the PCR swab test. (Coconuts.co 26/12/2020)

Restaurant, Shopping Mall, Crowd Bans to Return as Covid-19 Cases Soar

The government will limit restaurants’, movie theaters,’ and shopping malls’ operation hours and ban crowds and New Year celebrations in public places as the number of Covid-19 new cases and daily deaths soar in the country, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said on Monday.

Luhut said Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, and Bali must impose the curfew starting Dec 18 to Jan 8 and ban the Christmas and New Year celebrations as the government adamant not to repeat its mistake letting the people gather during the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday holidays at the end of October.

“The number of positive numbers and mortality rates has continued to increase after the holidays. Previously, it was trending down,” Luhut said in a statement.

Luhut highlighted the numbers in Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, South Sulawesi, North Sumatra, Bali, and South Kalimantan as particularly worrying.

The minister asked the Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan to tighten the so-called large scale social restrictions (PSBB) in the capital. Jakarta must require 75 percent of office workers to work from home, after loosening it to 50 percent last month.

“I also asked the governor to continue the policy of limiting malls operating hours to 07:00 p.m. and limiting the number of people gathering at dining places, malls, and entertainment venues,” said Luhut.

The minister said shopping center owners should provide rent or service charge relief to their tenants, to alleviate their burden under the renewed lockdowns.

“Rental and service charge relief schemes should be mutually agreed between shopping centers and tenants,” he said.

Activities that could potentially gather large numbers of people, such as celebrations and religious events, be restricted, banned, or carried out online instead, Luhut said.

The National Police and Indonesian Military to intensify enforcement of the health protocol rules. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo would rally the troops to show the government’s “strong commitment” in the enforcement effort, Luhut said.

The minister also asked West Java, Central Java, and East Java governors to optimize the provinces’ use of isolation centers to curb the Covid-19 spread.

“I ask local governments also to tighten social restrictions based on urban and rural contexts,” Luhut said.

In the urban area, local governments must tighten the Work From Home (WFH) rules and limit the operating hours of restaurants, entertainment, malls to 08:00 p.m. For rural areas, local governments must strengthen social restrictions at micro and community scale, Luhut said. (Coconuts.co 28/12/2020)


French national arrested in Bali for meth, guns possession

A Frenchman has been arrested on the Indonesian resort island of Bali for alleged possession of illegal drugs and guns, police said on Wednesday (Dec 23).

The 30-year-old French national, identified by his initials RJHB, was arrested on Monday after police received a tip-off that he was involved in drug trafficking.

Police said he resisted arrest, and later found nearly 5g of crystal methamphetamine and three guns – a rifle with a stabiliser, a Makarov pistol and a revolver – at his home. They also found more than two dozen bullets.

“(These guns) are very prone to misuse, especially because the suspect is a drug user. If he loses control, the guns could be dangerous,” Bali police chief Putu Jayan Danu Putra told journalists on Wednesday.

Police found nearly 5g of crystal methamphetamine and three guns at his home, as well as over two dozen bullets. (Photo: AFP/Handout)

Police said the suspect had lived in Bali for years, spoke fluent Indonesian and worked in the property business.

He has now been charged with possession of illegal drugs and guns, and could face up to 20 years in prison and an 8 billion rupiah (US$560,000) fine if found guilty.

Indonesia has some of the toughest drug laws in the world, including the death penalty for traffickers.

Reached by AFP, the French embassy in Jakarta declined to comment. (channelnewsasia.com 23/12/2020)