JAKARTA: The Indonesian military and police will be activated to enforce social distancing measures under a "new normal" scenario, President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday (May 26).
Mr Widodo made the comments after visiting a pharmacy and a food court at a partially closed mall in Bekasi city, on the outskirts of Jakarta.
“We want the military and the police to be at every crowd to further discipline the public, so they follow the protocol that we have agreed to in the large-scale social restrictions,” Mr Widodo said, referring to a partial lockdown currently enforced in Bekasi and four out of 34 provinces.
“We want to remain productive, but safe from COVID-19," he stated.
The military would ensure that people will wear masks, keep a distance and avoid crowds, said the Indonesian leader, known popularly as Jokowi.
He added that authorities would then need to assess the result and potentially extend the measures to other regions in the country.
Jokowi said that he had decided to visit Bekasi to see the preparations for life after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
He indicated that given the lower incidence of COVID-19 community transmission in Bekasi, the city may soon be able to operate under a "new normal" scenario.
On Tuesday morning, he announced that hundreds of thousands of army and police personnel across the vast archipelago will be deployed starting on May 26 to enforce social distancing rules in the four provinces and 25 cities that have implemented the large-scale social restrictions.
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He made the announcement at a subway station in Central Jakarta, where large-scale social restrictions have been in force since Apr 10. The restrictions are scheduled to end on Jun 4 and some have suggested that an extension may be on the cards.
“With the massive deployment (of military and police personnel), we hope we can flatten the virus curve and bring it down,” the president said.
However, Jakarta’s governor Anies Baswedan noted that the deployment of the military and the police does not necessarily mean that the capital city will end the large-scale social restrictions next week.
"What determines whether these large-scale social restrictions will be extended or not is actually neither the government nor experts, it is the behavior of the people.
If people choose to obey, the large-scale social restrictions can end. If not, then they must be extended,” Mr Baswedan said on Tuesday.
The governor hoped the restrictions will not need to be extended. He hoped that people will be ready to live under a new normal, while abiding by the established guidelines.
"Hopefully Jun 4 will be the end of the large-scale social restrictions. Then we can start a new normal transition.
"Later, we will announce protocols in each sector, from the economic sector to worship as well as social and cultural activities. So we can live our new lives while preventing the transmission of COVID-19."