Local News

Masks No Longer Required in Open Space: Jokowi

The government has decided to relax the mask requirement in open places with no crowds and drop the testing rule for domestic and foreign travelers, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo Tuesday announced on Tuesday, marking the country’s significant improvement in Covid-19 pandemic handling.
“First, the government decided to relax the policy on wearing masks,” Jokowi said in a video broadcast from Bogor Presidential Palace, West Java.
“Suppose people are active outdoors or in open areas that are not crowded with people. In that case, they are not allowed to wear masks,” he said.
Still, people must wear masks during closed rooms activities and or public transport rides.
“For people in the vulnerable category, like the elderly or those with comorbid diseases, I still recommend wearing masks in their daily activities,” Jokowi said.
He also required people with cold symptoms, like cough or fever, to wear masks when meeting with people.
Secondly, Jokowi said the government had dropped the polymerase chain reaction test (PCR) or antigen swab tests requirement for domestic and foreign travelers who received a complete vaccination dose.
The announcement marked Indonesia’s most relaxed rules since the government introduced the mask mandate in 2020.
The government had also said last month that it would ease more pandemic restrictions should the Idul Fitri exodus did not start another Covid-19 wave.
The most populous country in Southeast Asia has seen new daily Covid-19 cases drop below 500 for three weeks now, even after the week-long Idul Fitri holiday that saw around 85 million people traveling around the country. On Tuesday, the government reported 247 new cases and 17 new deaths caused by Covid-19.  (jakartaglobe.id 17/05)

Bali Tourism Association Calls On Government To Expand Visa On Arrival Program To 198 Countries

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bali have confirmed that they will be submitting a proposal to the central government of Indonesia requesting that the visa on arrival program is extended to include all 198 of the world’s recognized countries.

In a bold move, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bali, also commonly referred in English to as the Bali Tourism Association, will be lodging a proposal to expand Indonesia’s newly resumed visa on arrival program. The visa on arrival program was resumed in phases as of February 2022, when borders officially reopened. As of the 28th of April 2022, the government added an additional 17 countries to the list, taking the total number of countries to sixty. This was considered sufficient and saw Indonesia’s visa on arrival program open to as many countries as it was before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The visa on arrival program is currently open to travelers from South Africa, United States of America, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Philippines, Finland, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Italy, United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, Germany, Cambodia, Canada, South Korea, Croatia, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Myanmar, Norway, France, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, New Zealand, Seychelles, Singapore, Cyrus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor Leste, China, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Vietnam, and Greece.

The visa on arrival is not free. The charge is 500,000 IDR ($35), is valid for 30-days, and can be extended one time within Bali. There have been rumors that there are plans to triple the visa on arrival fee. In a recent press statement, Bali Governor Wayan Koster denied this.
There would be an immediate backlash at such a staggering increase. It is clear that the Indonesian government is keen to be seen as keeping everyone as happy as they can be it comes to policies around travel and tourism as the world opens back from Covid-19.
The Bali Tourism Office have told local reporters that they believe increasing the visa on arrival to 198 would help speed up the recovery of Bali’s tourism sector and in turn the national economy. They cited that over the Eid Al-Fitr holiday that hotel occupancy across Bali increased to 60% but that there has since been a drop off in visitor numbers.
They said that they hope international tourist numbers will increase as Europe and North America head into the summer and as Australia and New Zealand move closer to the long winter school holidays.
Such a move would be a world first. At present, there is no country in the world that issues a visa on arrival to every other country in the world. Visa on arrival programs are often bilateral, reciprocal agreements, meaning if one country agrees to offer a visa on arrival for the citizens of another country, that other country will mirror the offering.
Though this is often the case for countries that also have other strong shared political ties, such as trade agreements. For example, a visitor from the USA may visit Indonesia and receive a visa on arrival, but an Indonesian citizen must apply for a visa before visiting the USA. Yet an Indonesian traveler may visit any nation within the ASEAN trade block and received a 30-day visa on arrival.
There are significant political implications involved in opening the visa on arrival program to the world’s 198 recognized countries. Some commentators may call it a short-sighted or even desperate attempt to keep tourism numbers from their natural ebb and flow. (antaranews.com 04/05/2022)

Domestic Visitors To Bali Drop By 10% As International Arrivals Improve

Following a flurry of domestic travelers over the Eid Al-Fitr weekend, the number of domestic travelers arriving in Bali has started to decline. In the days leading up to the Eid holiday, Bali welcomed an average of 39,000 people per day. Since then, the number of domestic arrivals has decreased by 10% per day. This was to be expected and the Bali Tourism Office is not disheartened by these figures.

Many of the visitors arrived in Bali by ferry, since travelling by boat from Java is often cheaper than traveling by plane. Over the Eid weekend, travelers from Java arrived via I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport, Padang Bai Harbor, and Gilimanuk Harbor in Jembrana. Sanur Port welcomed a record number of visitors through the harbor. The influx of travelers to Bali mainly concentrated in Kuta and Seminyak, though thousands of visitors traveled to neighboring islands of Nusa Dua, Nusa Lembongan, and the Gili Islands.

In a pre-pandemic era, seeing domestic tourism numbers fall so rapidly and consistently would be a cause for concern. Many of the domestic travelers who headed to Bali from cities across Java have now returned home. Given that the pandemic is not over, and many workers are only just returning to employment following successive lockdowns, disposable income for long vacations is not readily available for the average family in Indonesia at this time.
The tourism board has said that they are not concerned but this decline in incoming domestic travelers and have described how they are anticipating a steady increase in international visitors from here on in.

With the Australian winter holidays approaching, and the long school holidays for the European summer, Bali can expect to welcome substantially more international visitors in the coming months than in the last two years combined.

According to Gunandika, the Head of Tourism Marketing Development at the Bali Tourism Office, Bali is welcoming on average 4,000 international travelers per day through Ngurah Rai airport in Denpasar. The airport management team is bracing for an influx of Australian tourists in late June and July.

Since the reopening of Indonesia’s borders in February, and the full resumption of the visa on arrival program in late March, Bali has seen a slow but steady increase in visitor numbers. Despite the central government keeping Bali on Covid-19 Restriction Level 2, visitors seem comfortable and confident to return to Indonesia.
Beaches, cafes, restaurants, and event spaces are all open and operating at a limited capacity. For example, cafes and restaurants can operate at 75% seating capacity and diners are allowed to sit for a maximum of an hour.
The return of major airlines to Bali Airport has been another key signal that the international tourism industry is bouncing back. Airline giant Emirates has resumed its Bali-Dubai direct route five times a week. According to airline officials, there are plans to have this route running daily by July. Other operators like Jetstar, Qantas, and AirAsia are all offering flight deals to and from Bali.
The tourism industry, like any industry, responds to demand. If hotels, airlines, and tour operators are beginning to increase their offerings it is a clear sign that they are confident that the upturn in international traveler numbers will sustain.


Turkish ship captain floating at sea near Bali rescued

A Turkish sailor who was recently found off the northern coast of Bali by local fishermen after floating at sea for several days has been sent home this week, officials say.
Thirty-nine-year-old Erhan Seckal was adrift in the ocean for three days after he fell overboard from his ship on May 2. Local outlets reported that Seckal’s ship departed from an Australian port and was bound for Vietnam.
In the early morning of May 5, a local fisherman named Gede Budiasa, 30, who lives in Kubutambahan Village, Buleleng, saw a man waving his hands asking for help on top of a fish aggregating device (locally known as rumpon).
Severely exhausted and dehydrated, Seckal was immediately rushed by locals to the nearest local community health center for medical help.
In the meantime, local authorities ruled that Seckal had to be deported to Istanbul.
“He was sent home because he technically entered Indonesian territory without proper documents or stay permits,” Singaraja Immigration Office Head Nanang Mustofa said in a written statement.
Seckal did not have any documents with him when he was found, not even his passport, Nanang added.
Seckal boarded Turkish Airlines Flight TK-067 from Denpasar to Istanbul via Dubai on Tuesday, which departed at 9pm.
The Turkish Embassy reportedly said it appreciated local authorities for ensuring Seckal’s health before facilitating his way back home.

Health Ministry readies health facilities for acute hepatitis patients

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, has ensured that health facilities at central and regional levels are ready to provide services for patients with acute hepatitis.

“For referral at the national level, we have readied the Sulianti Saroso Hospital. However, in all provinces, there are also hospitals under the Ministry of Health that are ready to provide treatment,” Tarmizi stated at a webinar titled “Protect Children from Acute Hepatitis”, accessed here on Friday.

In addition, the ministry has cooperated with the Indonesian Pediatric Society (IDAI) and networks of pediatric specialists in all districts and cities to monitor and follow further developments in the handling of acute hepatitis.

Meanwhile, to facilitate the handling of cases of acute hepatitis with severe symptoms, the Ministry of Health provides examination services at four laboratories that can be used as referrals, specifically the Sulianti Saroso Hospital, National Laboratory of the Ministry of Health, Prof. Dr Sri Oemijati National Laboratory for Infectious Diseases, and the laboratory in Nusantik.

At the regional level, Tarmizi affirmed that the ministry had coordinated with regional governments to ready the public hospital in each region as a referral in handling acute hepatitis cases.

Tarmizi noted that efforts to ready health facilities are aimed at preventing fatalities among patients and accelerating handling with early detection.

The spokesperson assessed that acute hepatitis must not be downplayed, and all parties must remain alert in protecting their children because the cause or the type of virus is still unknown.

To this end, she urged everyone to implement a clean and healthy lifestyle by regularly washing hands, eating cooked food, drinking clean water, wearing masks, and completing children’s immunization with the hepatitis B vaccine.

The Ministry of Health had increased vigilance against a mysterious form of acute hepatitis that is affecting children in several countries. The ministry sent a letter of vigilance to the provincial, district, and city health offices, specifically Circular Letter Number HK.02.02/C/2515/2022, concerning precautions for the discovery of acute hepatitis cases of unknown etiology.