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No lockdown for Indonesia, Jokowi insists as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

/ 05:11 PM March 24, 2020
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo speaks at a press conference on COVID-19 updates at Bogor Palace in West Java on March 16. (Antara/Hafidz Mubarak)

JAKARTA — President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has reiterated that he will not impose a nationwide lockdown, despite the growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country and has cautioned regional heads who seek to impose stricter movement restrictions in their respective regions.

The President said Indonesian people’s cultural characteristics and discipline were the two main reasons why the government had ruled out a lockdown, adding that the decision was also made after evaluating policies enacted by other countries during the pandemic.

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“I have gathered data about countries that have imposed lockdowns and after analyzing them, I don’t think we should go that way,” Jokowi said during  a limited meeting at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday.

Instead of imposing a lockdown, he reiterated his call for people to stay home and maintain physical distance from each other to curb the spread of the disease.

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He cited news reports showing that Indonesians had not been complying with calls for social distancing, including a news report claiming that a person who was supposed to be isolated had gone out to purchase groceries and had even bought a smartphone along the way.

“The policy of physical distancing can halt the spread of the disease if people really comply with it,” he said.

Jokowi also urged regional administrations that sought to impose stricter movement restrictions, such as closing down offices and stores, to prepare a social safety net mechanism for people who were directly affected by the policy.

“If regional administrations want to [impose restrictions], they need to thoroughly assess the impact of such policy. They should analyze the number of businesses that would not be able to operate during the lockdown and give financial assistance to people who depend on informal economic activities,” he said.

As of Tuesday morning, Indonesia has reported 579 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 49 deaths. The disease has spread to 22 of the country’s 34 provinces.

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TAGS: Coronavirus, coronavirus outbreak, Coronavirus Pandemic, COVID-19, Indonesia, Joko Widodo
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