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President Joko Widodo admits Java-Bali PPKM restrictions aren’t working

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The central government’s Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM) partial lockdown protocol has not produced the desired outcomes, President Joko Widodo said, as he mulls the fate of the policy.

In a cabinet meeting, Jokowi conceded that PPKM, which has been enforced in high-infection cities and regencies in Java and Bali, has done practically nothing to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“We have to say it like it is. It isn’t effective,” Jokowi said in the meeting, the video of which was uploaded to YouTube yesterday.

“The essence of PPKM is to limit mobility, but I’ve seen that the implementation hasn’t been stern nor consistent.”

The president also called for an evaluation of PPKM, saying that stricter restrictions have led to an economic slowdown that has not been reciprocated by a change in fortunes in the health sector.

Indonesia officially passed 1 million COVID-19 cases and recorded its highest daily death toll last week. In the 10 months since the pandemic came to Indonesia’s shores, the country has never been in a full lockdown, with the government preferring partial restriction measures, namely the Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) and more recently PPKM.

Health experts have long called, and continue to call for, much stricter quarantines and lockdowns in Indonesia.

But despite conceding PPKM’s failures, Jokowi does not seem to be interested in a full lockdown, saying that even countries that have enforced tougher restrictions have had exponential COVID-19 case spikes.

Instead, Jokowi is calling for more public discipline in following health precautions.

Not too dissimilar to PSBB before it, under PPKM, affected cities and regencies are required to limit work from office capacity to 25 percent, resume online learning, and limit capacity at religious facilities to 50 percent during the two weeks. Furthermore, shopping malls are required to close by 8pm, while restaurants are only allowed to serve dine-in customers at 25 percent capacity.

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