M Julnis Firmansyah, Jakarta – Epidemiologist from Australia's Griffith University, Dicky Budiman, assessed that President Jokowi's policy that allows people to take off face masks in open spaces was issued in haste. The removal of the mask mandate, he opined, should only be announced when the booster vaccination coverage is high enough.
Citing from the Health Ministry's official page, vaksin.kemenkes.go.id, the third-dose vaccination coverage only stood at 20.54 percent as of Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
"Other countries relax the use of masks outdoors because their three-dose vaccination coverage is already above 70 percent. Indonesia hasn't [recorded a high rate yet]. So I think we need to be careful," said Dicky to Tempo, Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
He assumed that the government had its own calculations for issuing the policy. However, he asked the government to strictly regulate the removal of outdoor mask mandate.
Jokowi's statement about dropping the use of masks in open spaces without being followed by clear rules and information could cause excessive euphoria among the public which lead to public negligence to health protocols, while new virus variants could still be discovered.
"That's okay if the government has its calculations. But information regarding risks [of putting off masks outdoors] must be fully provided to the public so they can judge for themselves whether they are in a safe situation or not, whether or not they should wear a mask," said Dicky.
As widely reported, President Jokowi announced Tuesday, May 17, that people are no longer required to wear face masks in open places that are not crowded as the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia is getting more controlled.