Plans to relax restrictions to allow foreign tourists to return to the paradise island of Bali in Indonesia have been delayed yet again amid an upturn in the number of Covid-19 cases.
Main picture Bali beach scene credit Dennis Van Dalen on Unsplash
Talk of a relaxation to entry rules for Bali, Batam and Bintam from July were first announced in April and more details emerged in June as hopes were raised that the local vaccination programme would allow the return of foreign tourists.
The Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaiga Salahuddin Uno, has stated that plans will continue to be developed but must wait until cases are under control. Indonesia has seen a recent increase in cases again, including on Bali.
“We were targeting end of July, beginning of August, but we just have to be mindful of where we are in this recent spike (in coronavirus cases).”
“We will be waiting for the situation to be more conducive.”Sandiaiga Salahuddin Uno, Indonesia Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy – Reuters
Uno added that he wanted to see Bali’s daily Covid-19 infections to fall to no more than 30 or 40 per day before the island reopens to tourists.
Local tourism groups on Bali has been very hopeful that the island could be used to restart tourism in Indonesia.
There are still hopes that 70% of the Balinese population will be inoculated by the end of July, the threshold seen by many as required to achieve herd immunity. To date around 71% have received their first dose.
The island location would enable travellers to fly direct to the island and travel could be more easily controlled than in other areas.
The Red Cross is warning that Indonesia is on the edge of a Covid-19 “catastrophe” as the more infectious Delta variant dominates transmission and chokes hospitals in Southeast Asia’s worst epidemic, reports Reuters.
Indonesia has reported record daily COVID-19 infections of more than 20,000 in recent days, in a new wave of infections fueled by the emergence of highly transmissible virus variants and increased mobility after the Muslim fasting month. The country has nw reported more than 2.1 million cases and 57,561 deaths during the pandemic.
“Every day we are seeing this Delta variant driving Indonesia closer to the edge of a COVID-19 catastrophe.”
Jan Gelfand, head of the Indonesian delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
Hospitals in several designated “red zone” areas have reported overcapacity, including the capital Jakarta, with its isolation beds 93% occupied as of Sunday.
Indonesia is banking on mass vaccinations as a means of tackling the virus, but only 13.3 million of the 181.5 million targeted for inoculation have received the required two doses since January.
In unconfirmed reports The Straits Times are stating that Indonesia is preparing to impose a “hard lockdown” from 30th June.
The measures may include all workers in the non-essential sector to work from home and ban dining in at restaurants. Domestic air travel would be allowed only for those who have been vaccinated and can prove negative PCR tests.
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