Sausan Atika, Jakarta – Indonesia's capital Jakarta entered another period of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) on Monday with most office workers forced to once again shelter in place, but some remain unconvinced that the curbs will be able to contribute much to their protection – unless there is strict enforcement.
Jasmine, 26, who works as an interpreter, said she did not feel "protected enough" while working in her client's office.
She has personally tried to maintain personal hygiene and worn a mask whenever she could, but her workplace environment still undermined her efforts, as the institution she works for still receives guests very often.
As a regular visitor, she doubted there was enough room for her to stay safe in her client's office, even if the company complied with prevailing regulations and limited the number of people working to half the capacity of the space, as was done when the first PSBB measures were enacted in April.
"There are still people smoking around the office building. Maintaining physical distance is also difficult. I sometimes reprimand people who sit in a chair [I was using] but they would get offended," she told The Jakarta Post.
The new restrictions did not help her feel safe from COVID-19 transmission, due to the absence of strict enforcement.
For Kartika, an employee at a government agency, enforcing health protocols within office spaces was not enough to contain transmission; each person must also take their own precautions.
"We can catch COVID-19 in a variety of situations and environments, so there is always going to be a risk of infection. It depends largely on our awareness and commitment," she told the Post.
"Sometimes it is the person that chooses to neglect [health protocols]."
Under the current PSBB, workplaces in 11 essential sectors – including health, food, energy, communications, logistics and basic needs retail – are allowed to remain open at half the capacity of their respective office space.
Activities outside these sectors, such as government offices, must have no more than 25 percent of employees working at the office at the same time.
During the first PSBB that lasted from April to June 3, workplaces in nonessential sectors had to fully implement the work-from-home policy. When the economy gradually reopened, companies were allowed to have their office spaces filled at half capacity.
During the first PSBB period, the Jakarta Manpower, Transmigration and Energy Agency recorded that 4,074 companies and institutions – which together employed a total of 1.07 million workers – had either enforced the work-from-home policy or slimmed down their operations.
But it remains unclear how many workers were actually working remotely during that period.
With the return to PSBB, agency head Andri Yansyah estimates that there could be over 600,000 employees still working in their office spaces. The agency said Jakarta had nearly 80,000 companies and institutions in total, together employing some 2.1 million people.
Around 3.2 million Greater Jakarta residents are commuters, according to the 2019 Greater Jakarta Commuter Survey by Statistics Indonesia (BPS). Of that figure, 2.5 million are office workers who commute daily.
On Monday morning, state-owned commuter line operator PT KCI reported a 19 percent decline in passenger numbers compared to last week. The decline in ridership was seen in several major railway stations including in the Bogor, Citayam and Bekasi stations in West Java.
The Jakarta Police's traffic unit found that traffic density in the capital did not change much from last week, but the police said it was too early to say whether commuters were shifting from public to private transportation or whether the PSBB measures were failing.
Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) head Arifin recently said monitoring violations of health protocols in office areas was considered a challenge as the agency could not regularly enter nonpublic spaces. He encouraged employees to report violations using the city's smart mobile app Jakarta Kini (JAKI), which will keep their identity anonymous.
The tighter curbs were reinstated – albeit with some measure of leniency – after the city administration announced it had to "hit the emergency brake" on Wednesday last week, giving employers a few days to prepare.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan singled out commercial office spaces as a focus for restrictions on Sunday. Previously, the city saw up to 90 office clusters emerge as curbs were gradually eased.
Tempo daily reported on Aug. 9 that at least 1,081 cases of COVID-19 transmission had originated in office clusters.
Jakarta has recorded a daily average of over 1,000 new cases this month and registered at least 55,099 infections with 1,418 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, national COVID-19 task force data show, with its transmission rate seeing a continued rise since the city gradually relaxed curbs on specific sectors under a "transitional" phase two months after the initial PSBB period.
With accurate data still a problem, the Jakarta administration reported 1,492 new cases and six deaths on Sunday, bringing the city's official tally to 54,864 confirmed cases, with 4,649 patients hospitalized.
The PSBB announcement sparked concerns over the possible collapse of the country's economy, with central government officials and the business community expressing various levels of displeasure at the PSBB policy.
As the capital and the beating heart of the national economy, the primacy of Jakarta cannot be understated.
The city continues to contribute the most to the Indonesian economy compared to other regions, with its regional domestic product accounting for 17.17 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter, according to Jakarta data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS).
But Anies cited the increasing number of daily new cases and a decreasing number of free hospital beds as the main reasons for declaring a return to stricter curbs.
Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto has said the police and the military will help monitor health protocols in office spaces.
In response, Andri said the agency would cooperate with the police and military officers should its officials meet any resistance from any office management during spot-checks.
He also encouraged companies or members of the public to report any violation of health protocols to his agency.
"In order to apply more effective PSBB, not only do we receive reports from companies but we also perform spot-checks and take reports from the general public," he said.
"Sometimes employees worry about the situation in their office. They can report to us directly or via an app, then we will follow up the report."