Nivell Rayda, Jakarta – Marcel Antonius has been working from home for more than three months and there is nothing much he could do to relieve his boredom.
So when he learned that his favourite exercise area, the seaside recreational complex Taman Impian Jaya Ancol in North Jakarta, was reopened over the weekend, he decided to go there with four of his cycling buddies.
"I am still afraid of the coronavirus. But I think as long as we practise social distancing, keep away from crowded places, always wear masks and wash our hands frequently, we would be alright," the 45-year-old told CNA on Sunday (Jun 21) morning.
The 80ha resort destination was largely quiet when CNA visited on Sunday morning, largely because of the strict quota system imposed by its management.
Only 5,000 people are allowed to visit the complex each day and visitors must buy tickets in advance online. Pregnant women, people aged 50 and above, and those without a Jakarta residency card are barred from entering.
"That was one of the reasons why I came (to Ancol). There are not that many people. Had it been crowded, I might think twice about coming," Antonius said.
Jakarta has begun to lift its large-scale social restrictions policy in stages since Jun 5, about two months after imposing the curbs on Apr 10 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The easing of restrictions started with the reopening of places of worship on Jun 5, followed by restaurants, businesses and offices on Jun 8. Shopping malls were permitted to operate in full on Jun 15.
On Saturday, the city allowed recreational areas and amusement parks to reopen, with strict health protocols in place.
Ambar Milasari said she is still scared about taking her family to the amusement park, and chose to stay at the beach instead.
"I don't think it's safe to share a thrill ride with other people. People shout and scream on thrill rides, so there is a chance of droplets flying out of their mouths and latching on to the seats, handrails and harnesses they are using," the mother of two told CNA.
"We can still have a good time at the beach."
The beach was divided into sections with ropes to make sure patrons keep a safe distance from each other.
Meanwhile, the resort's security guards were also seen patrolling the complex to make sure that the health protocols were obeyed.
Reduced capacity and activities
Taman Impian Jaya Ancol's head of corporate communications Rika Lestari said the privately run recreational area has imposed a number of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Aside from limiting the number of visitors, the management has decided to close several attractions and ban certain activities.
"For the time being, we don't allow people to swim here and water sports are still not permitted. We have also limited the amount of visitors at our restaurants," she said.
The recreational area's operational hours are also reduced, with no visitors allowed to enter the complex between 6pm to 6am.
Its shopping mall and water theme park will remain closed for now. "We might open them again when the time comes," Lestari added.
While 2,500 people are allowed to enter Ancol's amusement park Dunia Fantasi each day, only a handful of people were seen entering the otherwise popular site on Sunday morning.
Inside, there were hardly any queues, with some rides only occupied by three to five people.
Another tourist site that has adopted similar measures to reduce its capacity was Jakarta's Ragunan Zoo. Its operational hours have been reduced to just five hours from 8am to 1pm, while the visitor numbers are capped at 1,000.
Entry will not be granted to those without a Jakarta residency card and those above 50 years old, and tickets must be purchased online.
Jakarta government to review Car-Free Day after huge crowd turned up
The quiet scenes at Ancol beach and the zoo were a stark contrast to the crowded restaurants at the hilly resort area of Puncak, just south of the capital. Tourists flocked to the tourist spot to soak in the view over the weekend.
"I was a bit surprised by how congested the road to Puncak was and how packed the restaurants were," Jakarta resident Victoria Wijaya told CNA. "We just stayed inside the car, so I think we should be safe."
On Sunday, two major streets Jalan Thamrin and Jalan Sudirman in the heart of Jakarta were crowded with thousands of joggers and cyclists to mark the return of the car-free day, which was suspended for the last three months due to COVID-19.
The weekly event was first introduced in 2002 to encourage residents to get out of their homes and exercise, without having to worry about oncoming traffic.
Cyclist Randy Julian said he was initially excited when the government announced that it was bringing back the event.
"But when I saw just how many people were there, I decided to head back home. I joined the event to exercise not to get infected," the 29-year-old told CNA.
The crowd was so large that "car-free day" became a trending topic on Twitter on Sunday. Some blamed the residents for disobeying social distancing protocols, while others blamed the government for holding the event so soon.
"During PSBB people were complaining about being stressed and the economy," Twitter user @Sswirowiri wrote, referring to the social restrictions by its Indonesian acronym.
"Once the restrictions are eased (people) can't control themselves. What can the government do when people are stubborn?"
Another Twitter user @_hiskiasima put the blame on the government. "What else is going to happen when CFD (car-free day) is allowed by the government. You can't blame the people."
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said the city had deployed hundreds of officials to monitor the event, but they were soon overwhelmed by the number of people participating.
The governor said with so many participants disobeying the social distancing rule, the city is putting the event under review.
"We will decide whether we should keep it the way it was, or make changes," he was quoted as saying by Indonesian media on Monday (Jun 22).
"Everyone is still learning how to obey the protocols and how to organise an event. There is a silver lining from this and we will make corrections and improvements." (CNA/ni)