Indonesia has deployed soldiers and police personnel to enforce the partial lockdown in a bid to bring the COVID-19 infections down as the country plans to relax restrictions to shore up the ravaged economy.
Nearly 350,000 troops and police on Tuesday started guarding mall shopping centers, public transport and tourist attractions in the capital of Jakarta and three other provinces as well as 25 cities, Indonesian Military Chief Air Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto said.
President Joko Widodo stressed that the soldiers and police personnel would make people abide by the protocols of social distancing so that the infection rate would continue to fall.
“Starting today (Tuesday), military and police personnel will be stationed in spots where mass usually gather to discipline the people, making them obey the health protocols,” Jokowi, as the president is known, said when visiting a mass rapid transport station in Jakarta.
The president said the declining trends of the virus spread in some provinces have been encouraging based on the reproduction rate standard (RO), namely the level of the virus transmissions which have settled below 1, meaning the relaxation of the rules can be applied for a new normal stage.
“The levels of spread have slowed in some provinces. With this massive deployment, we hope we can flatten the virus curve and drift it down further,” he said.
The government has planned to ease restrictions in over 100 cities and districts which have not recorded COVID-19 infections to lead a pickup in business activities as the pandemic has made millions of people out of work and ravaged the economy.
The country’s GDP plunged by 2.97 percent in the first quarter and for the whole of this year it is expected to tumble 2.3 percent from a 5.02-percent growth last year.
The virus outbreak has set the government to widen development budget deficit to more than double of the 3-percent threshold of the GDP to finance efforts to offset the risks of the outbreak.
The scale of daily infection cases has edged down in the last two days to the level of below 500 from the record high of nearly 1,000.
On Tuesday, the Health Ministry reported 415 new cases, bringing the total to 23,165 with 1,418 deaths.