President Joko Widodo discusses sanctions for COVID-19 protocol breakers

Despite the recent loosening of social restrictions that allow for the reopening of businesses, tourist destinations, and schools located in COVID-19 green zones, Indonesia is still struggling through the pandemic. 

As of 14th July 2020, 78,572 cases have been reported in the country since the outbreak was confirmed to have reached Indonesia. While 37,266 patients have recovered, the numbers indicate that we still have to be cautious – especially when going out to public places. 

So on 14th July 2020, President Joko Widodo posted a tweet about ongoing discussions on the enforcement of possible sanctions for health protocol breakers.

Wearing masks and face shields, as well as keeping a safe distance from others still need to be practiced even though the reopening of public areas may create the illusion that COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

President Joko Widodo alluded to possible sanctions on Twitter

Health protocol breakers could face sanctions - President Joko Widodo's tweet
A tweet posted on Joko Widodo’s account on 14th July 2020
Image credit: @jokowi

On 14th July 2020, President Joko Widodo – also known as Jokowi – hinted at the possibility of sanctions for those who don’t adhere to COVID-19 health measures via his official Twitter account

According to his tweet, there are ongoing discussions among government officials that may lead to enforcement of sanctions for people who do not follow the health protocols in place. The sanctions could be in the form of a fine, community service, or light criminal charges. Such sanctions would aim to help people understand the importance of and comply with the health protocols.

Wearing face masks may become compulsory

Health protocol breakers could face sanctions - People wearing masks
Image credit:

Not wearing face masks is among the health measures that could be punishable by law under the possible forthcoming regulations, as reported by the Jakarta Globe. President Jokowi referred to the results of a survey conducted in one of Indonesia’s provinces that up to 70 percent of its inhabitants don’t wear masks – though no additional details were specified.

Other points that are included in the health protocols are physical distancing, prohibition of public gatherings, and frequent hand washing and sanitizing.

The challenges of social distancing

Health protocol breakers could face sanctions - Commuters waiting in line
Commuters queueing in Bogor Station on 8th June 2020
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There are many challenges that could arise when it comes to enforcing health protocols, as maintaining physical distance in public could prove to be difficult. For example, if public transportation systems are not operating at full capacity to ensure social distancing within vehicles or train cabins, this means commuters waiting for their turn to board have no choice but to wait in long lines at train or bus stations.

Car Free Day Jakarta Mulai Dibuka Kembali
Jakarta Car Free Day along Sudirman-Thamrin on 21st June 2020, before it was cancelled and split into different locations
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Open-air events such as Car Free Day (CFD) in Jakarta also proved to attract more residents than anticipated. For example, the large CFD location along Sudirman-Thamrin has been put on hold since the unexpectedly large turnout on 21st June 2020, and later was split into multiple different locations for health reasons. Still, effective ways of social distancing while exercising outdoors need to be further developed in order to prevent potential virus clusters.

Health protocol breakers could face sanctions - Highschoolers wearing masks in class
High school students in Aceh
Image credit: Bara News Aceh

It should also be noted that with the start of the new academic year, schools in areas declared as COVID-19 green zones have reopened. Following health protocols will be crucial for the safety of students and staff. 

Health protocol breakers could face sanctions - Woman washing hands in Tegal
A woman washes her hands in Tegal
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In addition to the difficulties of practicing physical distancing properly under some circumstances, we should also bear in mind that flowing water and face masks are not always readily accessible to many communities. These factors need to be taken into account should sanctions for protocol breakers be enforced in the future.

Sanctions or no sanctions, keep each other safe

Whether or not there are sanctions, it is important that we practice health protocols for the sake of our collective safety and overall well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown incredible acts of solidarity and care among Indonesians, and while it is not always easy, it shows that our communities try their best to help each other.

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Image is for illustration purposes only

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