Without lockdown, Bali province relies on local customs to tackle COVID-19
Bali, which has so far confirmed more than 300 cases of COVID-19 and recently recorded a spike in local transmissions, is insisting against implementing the central government’s Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) protocol.
The governor has instead emphasized the role of local customs in tackling the outbreak.
“We are not implementing regulations, but advisories and instructions. If we can ask people to remain disciplined without threat or regulations, then that’s something new,” Bali Governor Wayan Koster said.
“It’s about how to increase awareness among the people that what we are facing is something that would require discipline, order, and therefore I don’t think we need PSBB.”
PSBB, which is essentially a partial lockdown, has been implemented in various regions across Indonesia. At the provincial level, this includes Jakarta — which accounts for more than a third of the country’s COVID-19 toll with 5,554 cases — and West Sumatra, with 339 cases.
Koster claims that the public has duly followed official advisories and instructions on matters related to COVID-19, and highlighted the role of traditional villages across the island.
“Traditional villages are our primary pillar in controlling the people’s movement in their respective areas so that the residents don’t leave or receive others from other areas, unless there are urgent matters,” Koster said.
However, prominent Balinese activist Wayan Gendo Suardana has consistently highlighted on social media that the Bali provincial government is only short of officially implementing PSBB, but has actually applied the same principles on the ground.
In fact, regional secretary of the Bali administration Dewa Made Indra did say in early April that the strict limitations in the province have preceded the PSBB policy.
“Here in Bali we are already enforcing strict limitations. Substantially we have preceded this PSBB policy, but formally and according to the [new] government regulation of course we haven’t,” Indra was quoted as saying then.
On Instagram, Gendo said that when the public follows what he termed as “unofficial PSBB,” the people are being deprived of their rights to have their basic needs fulfilled.
The latest official data shows a total of 332 COVID-19 cases in Bali, including 220 recoveries and four deaths.