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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Indonesia’s Jokowi calls for balance between lockdown, economy

The new policy should be more targeted and specific than current large-scale social restrictions, the president said in a statement streamed by his office on YouTube, without providing details of the plan.

By: Bloomberg | October 4, 2020 1:38:33 pm
Motorcyclists drive past a poster of Indonesian President Joko Widodo urging people to wear masks in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia (Bloomberg)

President Joko Widodo has called for more focused lockdown measures to combat the pandemic without further endangering the economy of Indonesia.

The new policy should be more targeted and specific than current large-scale social restrictions, the president said in a statement streamed by his office on YouTube, without providing details of the plan.

“This policy adjustment shouldn’t be considered as flip-flopping,” Widodo, known as Jokowi, said. “Covid is a new issue. Each country is facing different problems and has different ways to handle it, so we have to keep adjusting.”

Indonesia is expected to report its first annual contraction in gross domestic product since 1998 because of the pandemic. Southeast Asia’s largest economy is grappling with infections that have recently climbed to about 4,000 cases a day.

At present, provincial governments in Indonesia impose local lockdowns, with approval from the central government.

Movement Limits

The capital Jakarta, home to more than 10 million people, extended stricter movement limits for another two weeks from Sept. 28. The country’s most-populous province of West Java followed suit by extending its control orders in areas that share a border with the capital.

Jokowi reiterated his pledge to find a better balance in handling Covid-19 and improving the economy. The country would maintain the focus on public health, while ordering ministers to introduce virus-related programs to boost business and employment.

“Our performance so far has not been bad, but don’t be complacent,” Jokowi said. “We still have to stay alert and work hard.”

The Jakarta provincial government submitted a bill to its legislative council that seeks to empower authorities to take action against offenders of the social-restriction measures, Kompas.com reported.

The bill would make it an offense to incite people not to undergo out health checks; falsify results of virus tests; withhold personal data about positive results; and remove corpses of people suspected of having died from Covid-19.

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