Long Holiday Blues
The government extends public activity restrictions (PPKM). Business owners lobby for the PPKM not to be extended.
A VIRTUAL meeting was held on Wednesday, January 20, chaired by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan with several regional heads. The meeting was held to evaluate the implementation of public activity restrictions (PPKM) which has been running for nine days. “A number of governors have proposed for the PPKM to be extended” West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil told Tempo on January 21.
According to Ridwan, the evaluation meeting also discussed the number of coronavirus spread reported spiraling beyond control in a number of areas. Although a number of areas claimed to experience a decline in cases, the figures is considered insignificant. The national Covid-19 task force reported that there have been 111,922 new cases, with an average daily case of 11,192 since the implementation of the PPKM on January 11-20.
Ridwan admitted that the Coronavirus Disease 2019 or Covid-19 spread in his province has increased during the long Christmas and New Year’s holidays. At one point the occupancy rate of hospital beds in West Java reached 77 percent. Exceeding the standards set by the government, which is 70 percent. Ridwan also struggled to increase the capacity of care bed for Covid-19 patients by preparing isolation beds, including at the Army’s Officer Candidate Schoold (Secapa) in Bandung City and Covid-19 Field Hospital in Tanah Sareal, Bogor. “I expect the occupancy rate to be below 60 percent,” said Ridwan.
Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo also supported the extension of the PPKM in his province. Moreover, according to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician, the PPKM has made the public more disciplined. Ganjar stated that in a virtual meeting between regional heads with the central government before the PPKM was decided, President Joko Widodo said the level of community discipline in keeping the health protocol was down during the long holidays. Wiku Adisasmito, government spokesman for corona mitigation confirmed the decline. There was a 20 to 30 percent decrease in discipline based on a survey conducted by the Covid-19 task force.
The day after the meeting, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy concurrently Chair of the Committee for Handling Covid-19 and National Economic Recovery, Airlangga Hartarto, announced the extension of the PPKM for two weeks, from January 26 to February 8. Airlangga said the policy was enforced due to the weekly reported Covid-19 case and the death rate are still increasing. Meanwhile, the recovery rate for corona patients in several areas has decreased. Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Muhadjir Effendy said the PPKM extension was unanimously approved. “Nobody has any objections,” said Muhadjir.
During the first phase of public activity restrictions, the government only allowed 25 percent of office occupancy, likewise for restaurants. However, for the second stage of the PPKM, there were also relaxed provisions. Such as, malls and restaurants that previously were only allowed to open until 7pm were allowed to operate one hour longer.
The relaxation of regulation is suspected to accommodate entrepreneurs’ interests. Deputy Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Jakarta Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), Sarman Simanjorang, even admitted that his institution had provided input to the government not to extend the policy. “This restriction policy gave us seizures,” said Sarman.
According to Sarman, the entrepreneurs asked for increased operating hours for malls and restaurants if the government were to extend the PPKM. Initially they asked for an extension until 9pm. Taking into consideration that people would want to go the mall after work before going home. The proposal has also been submitted to Kadin Chairman Rosan Roeslani. Rosan who is concurrently deputy chairman of the Economic Recovery and Transformation Task Force, said the extension was approved by extending the opening hours of shopping centers until 8pm.
SINCE its initial implementation, the PPKM has raised a question mark. Such as the name PPKM itself, which previously was the large-scale social restrictions or PSBB. Ridwan Kamil, for example, admitted that he had told the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan about the new name. “I don’t reject the name, but I need to explain it again to the public,” said Ridwan.
Two officials who attended a number of public restriction discussion meetings said that the change of the name from PSBB to PPKM was suggested by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy Airlangga Hartarto. The change was related to the name PSBB which was deemed to cause fear and have an impact on the economy. Airlangga could not be reached for comments. He did not respond to phone calls and messages sent by Tempo. However, when announcing the PPKM, Airlangga stated that it was not a ban on community activities. “Don’t get panic, people,” said Airlangga.
The same source said that the central and regional governments are trying to balance the economy and public safety, including determining the regions that will implement the PPKM. According to the official, East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa had asked Sidoarjo Regency not to be included in the list of tightened regions. The reasonbeing, many factories operate there and it can affect the fate of the workers.
When asked for a response, Khofifah did not respond to Tempo’s questions. Acting Regent of Sidoarjo, Hudiono, was reluctant to answer. “It’s not my capacity (to answer the questions),” he said. Meanwhile, the spokesman for the East Java Covid-19 Task Force, Makhyan Jibril Al-Farabi, denied this information. “All are treated the same,” said Jibril. Later, Khofifah appointed Sidoarjo as an area that implements the PPKM.
Ganjar Pranowo chose to add a number of regions that impose the PPKM in his province, namely regencies/cities in the Banyumas Raya area. According to Ganjar, regents and mayors in Central Java also took the initiative to impose the PPKM. Meanwhile, Ridwan Kamil added 20 out of eight regions determined by the central government to implement the PPKM.
However, there are also regions that choose not to fully implement the PPKM. Governor of Yogyakarta, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, was reluctant to impose office occupancy of only 25 percent. He chose to impose half of normal office capacity. Later, the Sultan revised the rules and chose to follow the policies of the central government. But in fact, in one government office in Yogyakarta, more than 25 percent of the employees have come to work. An employee mentioned that his boss asked employees to come in as in normal conditions.
DEVY ERNIS, SHINTA MAHARANI, PRIBADI WICAKSONO (DAERAH ISTIMEWA YOGYAKARTA), JAMAL A. NASHR (SEMARANG), NURHADI (SURABAYA)