Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta – The Indonesian government has decided to extend Covid-19 social restrictions across Java and Bali islands until Aug. 16 to curb the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
The lockdowns began on the two islands on July 3 and were extended twice before this latest extension.
However, restrictions will be eased in 26 areas, including Jakarta, which has seen infection rates drop in recent days, as well as the cities of Bandung, Surabaya, and Semarang.
Churches in these areas will be allowed to reopen, albeit with a limited capacity.
"Starting Aug. 10, places of worship ... can reopen with only 25 percent of capacity or at a maximum attendance of 20 people," Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan told reporters on August 9.
The minister is leading the government's efforts to combat the virus.
We can support their efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections by simply following health protocols and getting vaccinated
"Don't let the improvement that we've achieved laboriously go to waste," he added.
He also said these areas would see the gradual reopening of shopping malls and trade centers at 25 percent of capacity to vaccinated people aged between 13 and 69.
Earlier, in a video message, Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta called on Catholics to support the government's anti-Covid measures.
"The government is implementing [restrictions] for the common good. We can support their efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections by simply following health protocols and getting vaccinated," the prelate said.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang said the newly extended public activity restrictions will not significantly affect his archdiocese.
"We have issued a circular letter which contains a number of limitations on prayer services and is applied until Aug. 15. With this, Semarang Archdiocese fully supports government efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 and is encouraged to work for people's safety," the prelate told UCA News.
Infection rates have dropped in Jakarta in recent weeks. Last month the capital saw infections reach more than 14,000 per day, but on Aug. 9 the number was down to 727, according to government figures. Cases on the two islands have dropped by about 27 percent since the restrictions were introduced.
Some areas outside of Java and Bali, however, have seen infections rise by almost 2 percent, prompting authorities to extend restrictions to Aug. 23.
Across Indonesia, 20,709 new Covid-19 cases and 1,475 deaths were reported within the last 24 hours.
As of Aug. 9, the country had recorded a total of 3,686,740 cases and 108,571 deaths.