Jakarta eases social distancing curbs as virus cases stabilise

Jakarta eases social distancing curbs as virus cases stabilise

A gravedigger for victims of the Covid-19 coronavirus rests at the Pondok Ranggon cemetery in Jakarta on Sept 29, 2020. (AFP file photo)
A gravedigger for victims of the Covid-19 coronavirus rests at the Pondok Ranggon cemetery in Jakarta on Sept 29, 2020. (AFP file photo)

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s capital will ease strict social-distancing curbs starting Monday, as Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said the increase in coronavirus cases has stabilised.

Jakarta had brought back the stronger restrictions last month, as its health system was becoming overwhelmed. The city’s transitional phase out of the curbs will last from Oct 12-25, according to a statement from the local government. People can return to offices and dine-in restaurants as long as the capacity is limited to 50%, while gyms, cinemas and tourism sites will be allowed to operate at a maximum 25% of capacity.

“What happened in the past month was an emergency brake policy as there was an uncontrollable and unexpected rise in virus cases,” Baswedan said in the statement. “After that’s stabilised, we will start reducing the brake gradually.”

Baswedan said the effective reproduction number of the virus in Jakarta -- a measure of the spread among the population -- has eased to 1.07 from 1.14 in early September, helping justify the loosened restrictions. Still, as a nation Indonesia continues to struggle to contain the spread of infections, with the number of confirmed cases tripling from the end of July to more than 300,000. Nearly 12,000 people have died. The country reported its highest daily new-case total of 4,850 on Thursday.

While President Joko Widodo’s administration has refrained from imposing lockdown measures, concern over the outbreak still curbed consumer spending and damped investment. Southeast Asia’s largest economy is set to enter its first annual contraction since the Asian financial crisis.

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