Bali reopening seems to be imminent and authorities are getting serious about COVID-19 protocol violations. To do so, authorities have decided to deport those foreigners unable to follow the new sanitary rules.
Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno and the coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan met last week to discuss ideas and protocols to reopen Bali as soon as the COVID-19 situation has been controlled in the area.
After the meeting, Minister Luhut mentioned that the new protocols include severe penalties for those who violate health directives along with warnings for foreign visitors. Under the new penalties, international tourists who break the law will be deported as stated in the new “Penalty for Health Protocol.”
According to a report from the government, more than 90% of the COVID-19 restrictions offenders last year, were tourists living in the country on a business visa.
According to Badung regency Public Order Agency chief Gusti Agung Kerta Suryanegara, “most of [the offences] were not bringing their masks, not wearing them properly, and some businesses not applying health protocols.”
On February 24, representatives from Bali Police Department, the Covid-19 Task Force, the Immigration Office and Bali Vice-Governor held an online meeting to discuss specifically the new penalties for foreign tourists.
Bali Vice-Governor, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati (Cok Ace) summarized the key points as follows.
The penalty of IDR 100,000 (USD 7.02) for foreign violators is too low and must be raised. The Deputy of Tourism and Creative Economic, Odo R.M. Manuhutu suggested raising it to IDR 1,000,000 (USD 70.02).
At the same time, foreigners who violate the protocols will be given 2 warnings and the 3rd one will result in deportation.
When foreigners behave in a disrespectful manner or harass officers (Police/ National Army (TNI) / Local Security (Satpol PP)); they must also be deported.
Finally, the Governor Regulation will be reviewed and the document resulting from such review will be submitted to the Coordinating Minister and foreign ambassador.
Bali has been getting ready for this reopening since December when the government decided to vaccinate their hospitality workers in the first place.
According to Maxi Rein Rondonuwu, the ministry’s acting director general for disease control and prevention “around 55,000 Tanah Abang traders will be vaccinated in a span of six days and after that we will continue to vaccinate traders in all markets in Jakarta and eventually across Indonesia.”
If all goes according to plan, Bali might be reopening over the weeks to come.