Local News

PCR, antigen testing rollback to start from Bali: task force

The relaxation of PCR and antigen testing requirements for domestic travelers will be implemented gradually, starting from Bali, the COVID-19 Handling Task Force has said.

“This relaxation is being done gradually, starting from Bali with visa on arrival, quarantine free, and vaccination target,” the task force’s emergency health support sub-department head, Alexander K. Gintang, informed here on Monday evening.

This policy is still in the formulation process, which is being conducted together with a number of related authorities and experts, he informed. Currently, it is entering the finalization stage, he said.

Under the policy, domestic travelers will be asked to remain cautious by monitoring the PeduliLindungi application, receiving complete and booster vaccination, remaining alert for symptoms, and complying with the health protocols, he said.

“It has started to be accelerated in Bali this week. It will then continue to agglomeration regions with basic vaccination coverage, elderly vaccination above 80 percent, and booster over 30 percent,” Ginting added.

Earlier, at a virtual press conference, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said that domestic travelers arriving via land, sea, and air, are no longer required to submit negative antigen or PCR test results.

Pandjaitan, who is also the coordinator for Java Bali public activity restrictions (PPKM), said that the decision was made for the sake of the transition to normal activities.

“The detail of the policy will be stipulated within the circulation letter that will be issued by the related ministry or institution and will be released in the near future,” he informed.

Entire sports competition events can also now have audiences with the condition that they have received the booster dose and are utilizing the PeduliLindungi application, he said.

In addition, government spokesperson for COVID-19 handling, Reisa Broto Asmoro, said that the government has prepared a road map to help Indonesia carry out the gradual transition to the endemic phase. (antaranews.com 08/03)

Bali Visa On Arrival Will Still Cost $35 USD Per Travelers

An official from the Immigration Office has announced that the government did not change the requirements of the visa on arrival program for international travelers.

The Public Relations Sub-coordinator of the Immigration Office, Achmad Nur Saleh, confirmed that the central government decided to leave the requirements for the visa on arrival program unchanged.
The requirements prior to the Covid-19 pandemic are the exact requirements currently implemented for visitors from 23 select countries.
“Following the Government’s Regulation Number 28 Year 2019, the VoA tariff for international travelers is still USD $35 (IDR 500,000),” Achmad said on Sunday (6/3).
He emphasized that this resumed VoA program is only for visitors who enter through the immigration checkpoint at Bali Ngurah Rai Airport. Despite this, visitors can travel to the other parts of Indonesia afterwards and leave the country from any region. (thebalisun.com 07/03)
Here are the requirements for applying for a visa on arrival:
• visitor must show passport that has at least 6 months of validity
• round trip airline ticket or another ticket connecting to other countries
• the stay permit granted by immigration is valid for only 30 days, and can be extended for 1 time max

Balinese migrant workers arrive home from war-torn Ukraine

Twenty-six Balinese migrant workers who were evacuated from Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of the country safely landed at the Ngurah Rai International Airport yesterday.
They flew to Bali from Jakarta on AirAsia Flight QZ-7518 after undergoing quarantine upon arrival at the capital city’s airport on March 3. Before departing to Bali, they were greeted by the Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Protection Agency Head, Benny Rhamdani, at the bureau’s office in Jakarta.
All of the migrant workers are women who were understandably traumatized by the ongoing war.

Ni Ketut Muliasih, originally from Bangli, said that she worked as a spa therapist in a city in Ukraine for seven months before her office was bombed by the Russians. Like many other migrant workers, Muliasih was the breadwinner of the family by working abroad. Being forced to leave the country would mean less income for the family.
Muliasih’s husband, Wayan Amin, said they are bracing for possible financial setbacks but added that he was more delighted with the fact that his wife returned home to him and their kids.
“For me, my wife being home and seeing the kids is my hope from the start,” he said, adding that he prayed every day since the news about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine broke out.
Ni Wayan Sukerayani, originally from Payangan District in Gianyar, northern Bali, and worked in Kyiv, said that she was forced to hide under a bunker with others (mostly Indonesian nationals in the city) on Feb. 24.
“Around 3am [local time], we were woken up by a [civil defense] siren. We sought protection in the bunker. Sometimes we had less than two hours of sleep from Feb. 24,” she said, adding that she often heard rocket attacks and explosives from outside.
Officials of the Indonesian Embassy in Kyiv came to their rescue on Feb. 27, she said. The Indonesian evacuees reportedly flew home to Indonesia via Romania.
Having been working for five months in Ukraine (her working contract was actually for one-and-a-half years), Sukerayani expressed her willingness to return to Ukraine in the future.
“My boss was nice and the payment is good,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dewi, originally from Singaraja, conceded that coming back to Indonesia would cause a financial blow for her family. However, she is grateful to be back to her homeland nevertheless.
“Of course, I was so scared. And, yes, it’s such a loss but it’s more important to save ourselves,” she said. (coconuts.co 06/03)

Russian travelers in limbo in Bali amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

The invasion of Russia toward Ukraine has reportedly left Russian nationals in Bali in limbo due to the economic challenges as a result of the war.
According to a dance studio owner, who asked to be quoted anonymously, many of her Russian clients are facing financial difficulties because of the SWIFT sanction and other restrictions.
“SWIFT code banned, [they also] cannot accept [money] on PayPal, and their Russian banks are blocked,” she said, adding, “Digital nomads from Russia cannot accept payments. Applying for ATM cards to Indonesian banks is also out of the question because they have tourist visas.”

The dance studio offers pole dancing classes, which, according to the owner, are particularly popular amongst foreigners, including Russians and Ukrainians. One of her clients, she said, could not receive money in Bali after selling their car and apartment in Moscow due to the restrictions.
“Today [there are] 12 students from Russia and Ukraine who have expressed that they cannot join [classes] anymore because they have to save money for themselves and families,” she said, adding that some students did not find pole dancing particularly enjoyable anymore due to the war.
She added that the Russian nationals are scared of going home but, at the same time, confused about what to do in Bali.
Speaking to Coconuts under a pseudonym, Oleg, a 27-year-old IT freelancer from Russia who resides in Bali, said that he is aware of the financial restrictions. Oleg traveled to his homeland mere weeks before Russia’s invasion and plans to return to Bali this week.
“I’m going to a bank office [in Russia] now and will take their JCB card. This is a Japanese payment system (like Visa). This type of card, we can use [abroad],” he said in a text message.
Oleg confirmed stories of financial restrictions that Russian nationals abroad (including in Bali) are facing. He revealed that there are types of bank cards that Russian nationals can use amid the restrictions, but they are not popular, and not many Russians have them.
Adding that he would also use cryptocurrency as a way to survive, he said that while he heard that many Russian nationals have applied for Indonesian bank account ownership, it was not legally possible.
“If I have this opportunity, I will do it,” he said, adding that he would continue finding clients and businesses abroad for the next few months.
“I like Bali and [even] without [the] financial problems, I would like to stay for a long time. But now it depends on my salary and financial opportunities,” he added.
Another Russian national who is willing to be quoted under the condition of anonymity said that they are aware of the international banking card cancellation.
“Yes, we can’t use our cards [starting] from March 10 [Thursday],” they told Coconuts.
While they refuse to reveal more details due to the sensitivity of the situation, the Russian national said that with KITAS (limited stay permit), it was possible for them to obtain local ATM cards.
Coconuts have contacted the local bank in question for confirmation, as well as the Russian Consulate in Bali.
Russian nationals have traditionally been one of the top visitors to the Island of the Gods.
According to the Central Statistics Agency, in 2020, 67,491 Russian nationals were among the 4 million international tourists in Indonesia. Despite the pandemic starting two years ago, 2,324 Russian nationals still traveled to Indonesia in 2021. In January 2022 alone, there were 1,147 Russian nationals traveling to Indonesia, and, since Bali reopened to foreign tourists late last year, Russian tourists made up the majority of  1,600 foreign tourists who flew directly to the island.
Also Read — Russians, Australians make up most of 1,600 int’l visitors arriving in Bali: senior minister
Just last week, Tourism and Creative Industry Minister Sandiaga Uno said that Russian and Ukrainian tourists could help boost Bali’s tourism sector, which has been devastated since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sandiaga went further and said that the Indonesian government would not close its tourism hotspot for Russian and Ukrainian tourists and hoped the ongoing war would not hamper the island’s tourism business. (coconuts.co 07/03)

First Sydney-Bali flight in 2 years arrives as Garuda Indonesia resumes route

As more and more international tourists arrive in Bali ever since the island reopened to all nationalities in early February, flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has officially resumed its Sydney-Bali route with the first flight in two years landing at Ngurah Rai International Airport today carrying 61 Australian citizens.
The Indonesian Consul General for Sydney, Vedi Kurnia Buana, said that his office immediately worked together with Garuda following the announcement that Bali was reopening for international flights.
After bidding farewell to the Garuda passengers earlier today, Vedi said that all who boarded the flight, Indonesians and Australians alike, were delighted that Bali is finally open for direct flights.

“The Indonesian government very much appreciates this because under current circumstances they still want to have a vacation in Bali. That means, even though there’s still a 3-day quarantine requirement, they still go [to the island],” he said.
Vedi was referring to a 3-day quarantine requirement for international visitors upon arriving in Bali. Recently, the Indonesian government announced that quarantine requirements in Bali would likely be erased in mid-March (or sooner) as they plan to lift quarantine requirements for Indonesia as a whole on April 1.
Last weekend, Bali Governor Wayan Koster said that his office would support the resumption of Sydney-Bali flights as a way to lift tourism businesses on the island that have been devastated by the pandemic.
Australian nationals have traditionally been among the top tourists in Bali with 1.2 million out of 26 million Australians visiting the island every year before the pandemic, according to Vedi. In other words, four out of 100 Australians traveled to Bali each year before the island closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
In addition, the Australian government imposed travel restrictions toward their own citizens throughout much of the pandemic.
Garuda Indonesia’s first Sydney-Bali flight arrived around 3.45pm today at the Bali airport before flying back to Sydney via Jakarta. The I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar resumed operations today after being shut down during Nyepi or Day of Silence yesterday.
In addition to Garuda, Australia’s Jetstar Airways has also announced that they would soon announce a direct flight to Bali.
According to reports, Jetstar Airways is scheduled to restart its Melbourne-Bali on March 14, while its Sydney-Bali flight is scheduled for March 15.
Jetstar Asia, part of the Jetstar Group, has officially resumed their flights between Singapore and Denpasar after a two-year break with their first landing earlier today. (coconuts.co 06/03)

SOEs to build solar plant along Bali Mandara Toll Road

PT Bukit Asam and PT Jasa Marga will build a solar power plant along the Bali Mandara Toll Road to support Indonesia’s G20 Presidency in 2022 and the efforts to reduce global carbon emissions.

Business Director of Jasa Marga, Reza Febriano, stated that the Bali Mandara Toll Road, as one of the infrastructures that will support the 2022 G20 Presidency, has grown increasingly environment-friendly with the construction of the solar power plant to source the energy for operational needs of this toll road.

“Reducing global carbon emissions, which was one of the focuses of Indonesia’s G20 Presidency, is our concern and commitment,” Febriano noted in a written statement received here on Saturday.

He deemed the initiative as aligning with the idea of sustainable energy transition, which is one of the three focuses of the G20 agenda. This view motivated the cooperation with Bukit Asam to develop the solar power plant. This project contributed to the realization of Jasa Marga Group’s sustainable toll road efforts.

Director of Business Development at Bukit Asam, Rafli Yandra, also views the power plant as a form of collaborative effort to offer clean and sustainable energy.

The project kicked off with the groundbreaking of the solar power plant at the Ngurah Rai Toll Gate (GT) on the Bali Mandara Toll Road. The event was also a follow-up to the memorandum of understanding signed by the two State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) on February 2, 2022.

The solar power plant along the Bali Mandara Toll Road will be built by Bukit Asam through its subsidiary, PT BEI, to support the business and operational activities of PT JBT, which is a subsidiary of Jasa Marga.

It has a maximum capacity of 400 kilowatt-peak (kWp). Construction of the power plant will commence at the Ngurah Rai Toll Gate, which would then be continued to two other Toll Gates: Nusa Dua and Benoa. Solar panels will be installed at six locations, each at the entry and exit for the motorbikes at three toll gates on the Bali-Mandara Toll Road.

The length of the solar panels on each of these locations is one kilometer. The electricity generated from this power plant will later become an environmentally friendly source of electricity for public street lighting, operational offices, and also toll gates on the Bali Mandara Toll Road. Throughout its construction, Jasa Marga had maintained the safety and comfort of users of the Bali Mandara Toll Road, especially motorcyclists, by ensuring no disturbances in the lane and that they operate optimally according to the minimum service standards.

The project was targeted for completion in July 2022. (antaranews.com 06/03)

Best buds Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire spotted ordering coconuts in Bali

Two Hollywood actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire (both known to have been friends for decades) were reportedly seen in Bali recently.
While the Island of the Gods is no stranger to celebrity sightings (yes, including pornstars), the two thespians are arguably the first big names seen in Bali since the onset of the pandemic.
According to DiCaprio’s fan account on Twitter, the Titanic actor was pictured with the OG live-action Spidey at a business event at Kura Retreat Center in Bali.

Both were seen donning black facial masks. In the picture, DiCaprio wore a blue shirt, while Maguire wore a white shirt. Like many other travelers when they visit Bali, both were seen ordering fresh coconuts.
According to local reports, the picture was taken on Feb. 28.
Netizens were understandably excited about the news, with some wondering what business the pair of best buds had in Bali. One account claimed that the event discussed environmental issues.
DiCaprio was known to have visited Mount Leuser National Park, North Sumatra province in 2016. His visit at the time stirred controversy as the actor criticized deforestation for palm oil plantations in Sumatra, saying the practice endangers wildlife, especially orangutans.
Previous A-listers who have visited Bali included socialite Paris Hilton (who visited her bestie’s spa in 2011), actors Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem (both were filming Eat Pray Love back in 2009), Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis (spotted at the Ngurah Rai airport in 2012 after reportedly enjoyed a romantic vacation), and Christina Aguilera (who was on honeymoon in 2005 with her then-husband Jordan Bratman). (coconuts.co 06/03)