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200,000 Jakarta F&B workers face unemployment as a result of prolonged restrictions: retail association

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Around half of all F&B workers in Jakarta risk losing their jobs soon, a retail association said, with the mass layoffs likely to happen as a direct result of Indonesia’s reluctance to enact a comprehensive lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic, the subsequent rise of COVID-19 cases that continues to this day, and the capital’s recent return to strict restrictions (at least in theory) that have shackled the operations of F&B businesses.

According to the Indonesian Shopping Centers Management Association (APPBI), there are currently 400,000 workers employed in the F&B sector in Jakarta. Two hundred thousand of them may face unemployment as restaurants continue to face restrictions during the capital’s Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) protocol.

“Around 50 percent of F&B workers have been furloughed thus far. There is a great risk for those who are furloughed to be terminated if this strict PSBB is enforced in the long term,” APPBI chairman Alphonzus Widjaja said.

Jakarta first enforced PSBB, which practically amounts to a partial lockdown, in April. In June, the capital loosened restrictions with Transitional PSBB, but strict PSBB was restored on Sept. 14 amid a worrying spike in COVID-19 cases in the city.

Restaurants in Jakarta were allowed to open for limited dine-in during Transitional PSBB, but are now limited to serving deliveries and takeaway orders during proper PSBB.

“As such, many restaurants and cafés have chosen to temporarily close for business, because even if they forced themselves to open they wouldn’t be able to cover their operational costs,” Alphonzus said.

On the flip side of this economic concern, Jakarta continues to record worrying daily counts of COVID-19 cases. As of Sept. 27, the capital has recorded 70,441 total cases — the highest in Indonesia by far — including 1,686 deaths.

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