Bali struggles with tourists not respecting COVID restrictions

Photo: Satpol PP Badung

Sweeping the streets, doing push-ups, paying fines and taking the walk of shame are some of the social punishments awaiting tourists who fail to wear masks, maintain social distancing or wear clothes in public. 

I Gusti Agung Ketut Suryanegara, Badung regency’s Public Order Agency Head (Satpol PP), considers that some people seem to think rules apply only to locals and tourists get a free pass. 

According to the officer, 80% of violators caught this week maskless, helmetless or only wearing underwear were foreigners. The rule says that every person going outdoors must wear a face mask. Otherwise, they are subject to fines. And that, of course, includes tourists. 

Suryanegara is fed up with foreigners -mostly Europeans and Russians- violating the health protocols. 

It is “as if we are nothing in their eyes, sometimes they will laugh as they do social punishments […] even if they were made to pay fines, maybe it’s too cheap for them.” The penalty for not wearing a mask is a fine of IDR100,000 (US$7.19).

Photo: Satpol PP Badung

But enough is enough. Bali’s governor Wayan Koster, announced that from last Friday on, foreign tourists who do not wear a proper face mask will be denied entry from tourist sites and restaurants.

Pretending not to be able to speak English or not having money to pay the fine will no longer be an acceptable excuse. 

These concerns are understandable given the recent spike in coronavirus infections in Bali and other Indonesian territories. 

Starting today and until at least Jan. 25, Indonesia will impose stricter social restrictions in Bali and in some zones of Java, including Jakarta, in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. 

Chief economic minister Airlangga Hartarto announced that the decision had to be made due to the burden on local hospitals. Last week, the country recorded its highest increase in infections with 8,854 new cases only on Wednesday. 

A mass vaccination program is set to start on Jan. 13 according to Bali’s governor.