The Vice President of Indonesia, Ma’ruf Amin, told the media in a press statement delivered on the 10th of May, that tourists do not need to worry about Covid-19 in Bali.
Speaking at an event for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (UMKM), Amin said that due to the success of the vaccination program, that transmission across the island is low. He cited how the vaccination rate sits at 68%, and that nearly 70% of those who were fully vaccinated have now had their booster vaccine too.
Vice President Amin spoke of his optimism for the Indonesian economy following the pandemic. He said that he acknowledges and praises small businesses for dealing with the pressures of the pandemic for so long. He congratulated businesses for not ‘breaking spirit’. He shared how he feels that it won’t be long before the economy of Indonesia, of Bali specifically, will begin to grow again.
Despite the Vice President’s advice to tourists, it seems that the local government in Bali differs in its stance. Local authorities have said in recent weeks that this is no time to slack off. That although there may be a reduced need to ‘worry’ about Covid-19 that Bali is not out of the woods just yet. Last week four districts in Bali reported no new cases of Covid-19 and no deaths.
With this news came the warning from the head of the Bali Covid-19 Task Forces, I Made Rentin, that although caseloads were falling and vaccine uptake increasing that an influx of international tourists and increased movement of people across Bali would surely cause a small surge in cases.
He reminded the public to take mask-wearing and handwashing seriously. His sentiments were echoed by the central government’s Covid-19 Task Force who announced on Monday that Bali and Java would remain on restriction Level 2. This restriction level calls for reduced capacity in cafes, bars, restaurants, event spaces, and places of worship. It mandates the wearing of masks in public spaces and hand sanitizing upon entering public spaces.
This week the Covid-19 Task Force in Badung confirmed that they are renewing efforts to ensure that the whole of the district’s citizens receives their vaccine, with a special focus on calling in the elderly for their jabs. While the take-up of the vaccine in Badung had been high in the younger generations, the Covid-19 Task Force for Badung was concerned about vaccine hesitancy in the elderly population.
While some may call Vice President Amin’s flippant, his intentions are in alignment with the messaging from Bali Tourism Board and the hospitality sector across the island. Bali is open and authorities are doing all that they can to balance Covid-safety with allowing life to go on and the economy to begin to recover. It seems that authorities have resided to the fact that Covid-19 is a virus that the world has learned to live with and has adapted around.
Ahead of the G20 summit being held in Bali in November 2022, and while President Joko Widodo is on his three-day tour of the USA, the Indonesian government is keen to be seen to be bouncing back with strength. As plans for building the new capital city in East Kalimantan press forward, as the ban on exporting palm oil continues and as the climate crisis progresses, Indonesia is working hard to prove itself on the world stage to potential and existing trade partners across the globe. Positive press, decreasing covid rates, and increased numbers of international travelers are all important metrics for the central government now more than ever.
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