Q&A: Jakarta’s governor on bringing the coronavirus beneath management | Coronavirus pandemic Information

Jakarta, Indonesia – Southeast Asia’s greatest metropolis is easing COVID-19 restrictions this week, getting into what authorities name a transition interval.

After weeks of partial lockdown – mosques, church buildings and temples will welcome worshippers, eating places will open their doorways, and employees across the capital will return to their workplaces – all at half capability.


For months, Indonesia – and particularly, its densely populated capital metropolis – was a explanation for main concern within the area.

There have been fears it will turn out to be the following world epicentre of the virus. Dozens of nations suggested their residents to go away Indonesia, over fears the nation’s well being system would collapse beneath the pressure of the outbreak.

And whereas some have expressed concern that Jakarta is easing restrictions too quickly, metropolis governor Anies Baswedan advised Al Jazeera’s Jessica Washington the state of affairs has modified dramatically, and he’s assured the worst is over.

Al Jazeera: It has been round three months since Indonesia confirmed its first case of COVID-19. How would you assess the state of affairs right here in Jakarta, and throughout the nation?

Anies Baswedan: Prior to now month, COVID-19 remains to be a difficulty, however not as huge because it was in March and April.

We began with eight hospitals devoted for COVID sufferers. At the moment, now we have 67 hospitals for dealing with COVID circumstances. Jakarta at the moment has flattened the curve, and we’re shifting into a brand new interval, which we name transition.

We aren’t but capable of say Jakarta is protected, wholesome and productive – however we’re shifting into that path.

Al Jazeera: Earlier than we come to that transition, let’s speak in regards to the restrictions that now we have all been residing beneath for the previous few months. What had been a number of the challenges in imposing these restrictions?

Baswedan: We’re so lucky that after we determined to shut our colleges, in the beginning of March, there was virtually no detrimental response. Everybody agreed. After we known as for the non-public sector to earn a living from home, everybody responded positively. After we known as non secular leaders, and I defined to them, that is the state of affairs, everybody responded in a constructive means.


Anies Baswedan, the governor of Jakarta, prays after the lockdown in Indonesia’s capital was relaxed [Tri Handhono/Al Jazeera] 

However, in the beginning of early Ramadan (the Muslim fasting month), we began to see a rise within the variety of individuals leaving their dwelling. It is simply individuals needing to be exterior, to satisfy, and see the world – it is pure. But it surely hasn’t disturbed our efforts to manage the pandemic.

Al Jazeera: Clearly, it is easy for some individuals to earn a living from home – for others, day by day wage earners on a low revenue, it is not that straightforward.

Baswedan: That was why, after we introduced the restrictions, we started offering meals subsidies to households that wanted help. We began to do this earlier than the restrictions had been adopted. We distributed these to 1.2 million households in Jakarta.

After two weeks, we distributed one other batch. We’ll proceed to supply this help till the financial system is ticking once more.

Al Jazeera: There was loads of concern from different nations about how Indonesia would deal with this outbreak – some nations advised their residents to go away … and go dwelling. Are you assured it’s protected for these residents to return?

Baswedan: They’ll take a look at our method. We’re being constant in implementing coverage, we have been clear. We’re doing all the things we are able to to guarantee that Jakarta is a good dwelling for everybody, together with the worldwide neighborhood. Let’s take a look at the place we’re – Jakarta is able to be a part of the worldwide neighborhood.

Al Jazeera: Now we’re getting into this transition interval, you’ve got talked about an emergency brake coverage – that if circumstances started to spike, we might have restrictions reintroduced. What wouldn’t it take so that you can use that brake?

Baswedan: We do not need to see new circumstances, new sufferers, or new fatalities. If these numbers out of the blue soar to the extent that’s worrying to us, we’ll pull that brake. The transition interval shouldn’t be taken without any consideration; now we have to work for this.

We’re monitoring it daily, and we would just like the transition to be clean. The emergency brake is a final resort.

Al Jazeera: How involved are you about individuals who left Jakarta earlier than Eid (the celebration on the finish of the fasting month), now making an attempt to return to town?

Baswedan: Very a lot. Final month, I launched a regulation requiring entry and exit permits for Jakarta. We try to handle the transmissions inside Jakarta, and now, we would like to verify there is not any mobility that disrupts the steadiness of the state of affairs. We’re implementing these guidelines at our borders.

Al Jazeera: There was that interval, earlier than Eid, when there was confusion: Individuals had been ready for the nationwide authorities to decide, and in the end, journey again to hometowns earlier than Eid was banned. However initially, there was blended messaging from the federal government. Was that irritating for you?

Baswedan: My message to everybody from the start was, don’t depart Jakarta. The rationale was easy: We did not need COVID-19 to unfold. We perceive the challenges of well being amenities exterior the capital, and it is loads higher right here. My message was all the time – don’t depart as a result of for those who do, chances are you’ll not be capable of return, as you want.

Al Jazeera: It is a sophisticated state of affairs, although, is not it? The messaging from the central authorities wasn’t constant. Then, we had journey restrictions introduced in and watered down. Was it troublesome for you, realizing that the messaging wasn’t the identical throughout the board?

Baswedan: It is a state of affairs that we in authorities will be reflective and study from this era. The general public wants a constant message. Now, we’re doing a lot better. However we all the time work in shut coordination with the central authorities, we all the time report our insurance policies, and actually, the enforcement of our guidelines is by the assistance of the nationwide authorities.

Al Jazeera: However earlier on, there was loads of criticism towards the central authorities. What ought to have been finished in another way?

Baswedan: Now, from our expertise in Jakarta, it is vital to be united. It would not matter which social gathering or politics.

It is the identical factor on the nationwide stage; it is now time for us to help the insurance policies of the president. The challenges are complicated and heavy, and throughout Indonesia.

What’s wanted: decisiveness, and readability in message, and consistency.

Al Jazeera: There was criticism that the central authorities wasn’t being clear. Is {that a} mistake, to not be open with the general public?

Baswedan: I can solely remark about our insurance policies. We imagine that now we have to be clear, particularly on well being points. On safety, technique – that is a special ball sport. However on the difficulty of public well being, it is a pandemic, if we did not inform the general public, there is not any means we are able to management the unfold of the virus.

Al Jazeera: One factor that’s key to controlling the unfold is testing. The brand new goal set by the president is 20,000 checks per day. How assured are you that may be achieved?

Baswedan: I do hope that 20,000 a day is achievable. In March, even 1,000 appeared so excessive. Our labs are designed for analysis, not for dealing with a pandemic. However we remodeled ourselves.

Al Jazeera: The president has talked about this concept of the “new regular”. What does that imply to you?

Baswedan: We wish to come again to a state of affairs the place our society feels protected, and will be productive. Social actions, cultural actions and training can all operate, however there are new habits to study.

Within the early ’90s, all of us drove bikes and by no means wore helmets. Then, we adopted that coverage. Now, everybody does it, nevertheless it takes time. Now, carrying a face masks is one thing we have to turn out to be a brand new norm. 

Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome

A member of the family places a face masks on a toddler in Jakarta in the course of the coronavirus outbreak [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]

Al Jazeera: There was loads of concern in Jakarta – in regards to the dying charge, about low testing, and undetected circumstances. Are you assured, for probably the most half, town is within the clear?

Baswedan: Sure. We wanted to guarantee that they had been ready, even for the worst-case state of affairs. The medical doctors, paramedics, hospitals … if that’s all prepared, then I am comfy to start out this transition interval.

Al Jazeera: We all know that there have been cases of over-crowding: at markets, on the airport, and extra. What must be finished to guarantee that would not occur? 

Baswedan: Circumstances will all the time be there. We have to take a look at it from the broader perspective. We’re speaking about 10 million individuals. The truth that six million stayed dwelling. Some didn’t, and you’ll all the time see that. Regulation enforcement is vital, tracing and testing can be key.

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