Jakarta. The government is considering reducing the mandatory quarantine period for arriving international travelers, either Indonesian citizens or foreigners, from eight to five days in an effort to revive international business and tourism activities.
Coordinating Economy Minister Airlangga Hartarto said President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo was in favor of the move when it was discussed in a regular cabinet economic meeting Thursday.
“We discussed the quarantine time during the meeting. After the discussion, we decided to reduce the quarantine time to five days,” said Airlangga.
However, Airlangga said the plan to shorten the quarantine schedule is pending to ensure coordination between the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Transport.
The minister commented that Bali, the country’s main attraction, will open to international flights next week after being banned for more than a year.
Alexander Kaliaga Ginting, the head of health for the Covid-19 Handling Task Force, said the government must consult virologists before reducing the quarantine period for foreign comers.
“We are still waiting for statements from the panel of experts made up of epidemiologists and virology doctors who are members of the BNPB,” said Alexander on Friday.
“If we shorten the quarantine period, it turns out that [the virus’] The incubation period is long, we will be doomed. So we shouldn’t make rash decisions, and all of this has to be based on whole genome sequencing (WGS) research, ”said Alexander.
Today, foreigners or locals arriving from abroad must remain in isolation for eight days. Hotel operators said the quarantine period was too long for visitors to consider coming to Indonesia.
“This is not only expensive, but also time-consuming for foreign tourists. They come from far away, then the time of their visit is reduced by the quarantine period before they can travel,” said Maulana Yusran, the general secretary of the Indonesia Hotel and Restaurant Association ( PHRI) said previously.
The association expected the government to change its quarantine policy. Yusran said the government should not only take a shortcut but also introduce a quarantine policy on areas. So instead of being locked in a hotel room, visitors can still move freely in a restricted area.
“In Bintan, [Riau Islands], there are hotels with golf resorts and all kinds of entertainment. So if they need to be quarantined, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy. In Bali we also have areas like Nusa Dua, so they can still carry out their activities in one area during the quarantine period, ”said Yusran.