Marchio Irfan Gorbiano and Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – The government has decided to allow places of worship in COVID-19 "green zones" to reopen as the "new normal" comes into force.
Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi explained on Wednesday that the permits to re-open certain worship places would be issued after taking into consideration the areas' R0 and RT.
R0 refers to a virus' basic reproduction number, while RT refers to R0 at a given time. Both indicators measure how contagious an infectious disease is. An outbreak will eventually peter out in a certain area if it has an R0 below one. On the other hand, the outbreak can grow exponentially if the R0 remains above one.
"The permits will be issued by district heads upon consulting with regents. After all, it's the regents who are fully aware of an area's R0 and RT," Fachrul said during a teleconference on Wednesday, adding that the permits would be reviewed monthly.
"If COVID-19 transmission in an area increases, the permit to operate places of worship there will be revoked," the minister said.
The government is planning to ease large-scale social restrictions in the near future and embrace the new normal by reopening schools, offices and shopping centers as well as other public places. However, many have questioned the decision as the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths still continue to rise across the country.