Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo says he will not yet ease the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), and the government aims to keep residents productive and safe at the same time in a 'new normal' with COVID-19.
He said residents needed to make peace with the virus, citing information from the World Health Organization (WHO) that revealed that, although the transmission curve had started to flatten, the virus would not disappear.
"We must coexist with COVID-19. Most importantly, people must stay productive and be safe from the virus," he said in a recorded video statement published through the Executive Office of the President's YouTube channel on Friday.
"Living in peace with it does not mean we are giving up, but we are adapting. We fight the virus by prioritizing and requiring strict health protocol."
The government would make arrangement to help residents' lives to return to normal by paying attention to the facts in the field and prioritizing public health, he added.
"Don't pit them against each other as options. Our lives will definitely change in facing the pandemic. That's what people call the new normal," he said.
"But the new lives must not be filled with pessimism; instead, we boost our productivity with optimism as we will still uphold various prevention efforts."
Jokowi further explained that the government would still uphold the PSBB policies. When asked about easing the restrictions, the President said his administration would make careful a decision by taking current economic conditions into consideration.
While the PSBB policy was still in place, the government would gradually allow more businesses to open with added health precautions to prevent further transmission.
"For example, restaurants will be allowed to open, but they may only accept 50 percent of their normal capacity, with seats and tables being more spaced out," the President went on to say.
Decisions on when to gradually reopen the economy would be made after the government reviewed data on COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries.
The global pandemic and the PSBB policies enforced in several regions of the archipelago have forced many companies to halt operations as the restriction policy only allows essential businesses to operate, leaving around 2 million people out of work.
Jokowi also said that almost all regions had complained about their decreasing regional income, ranging from a 50 percent decrease to 30 percent, as the halt of economic activity affected revenue from regional levies.
Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister special adviser Raden Pardede previously said the government was considering gradually reopening the economy by the third quarter of 2020, with "business-as-usual" to be established by the end of July.
Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan recently said the government was considering initially reopening the economy in five regions, namely tourist hotspot Bali, Yogyakarta, Batam and Bintan Island in Riau Islands and Manado in North Sulawesi.
Experts, however, have warned that reopening the economy prematurely would trigger a second wave of COVID-19 infections.