Jakarta – The government will drop the quarantine requirement for foreign travelers coming to Bali starting on March 14 in a trial designed to attract visitors to Indonesia's main tourist attraction, a senior minister said on Sunday.
Currently, Indonesia implements a five-day quarantine requirement for anyone arriving from abroad. Starting on Tuesday, the government will only implement three-day quarantine for those who already received their booster vaccine dose. Still, it seeks to ease the travel restrictions further.
"The government will conduct a no-quarantine trial for foreign travelers who come to Bali, which will take effect on March 14 under our current plan," the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said after a meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and several cabinet members.
Luhut, who is also the coordinator for implementing Java-Bali's community-level restrictions (PPKM), said the government might implement the plan by one week early should Bali's Covid-19 cases number drop more rapidly.
"We can accelerate it if the date shows more rapid improvement. We already saw Bali's number continue to improve in the last few weeks," Luhut said.
The island province reported around 587 cases daily in the past week, declining 54 percent from 1.284 cases per day a week earlier, data from the Ministry of Health showed.
Bali was among 17 provinces in Indonesia that showed a decline in new Covid-19 cases in the past week, probing up the confidence among the authority that Indonesia has moved past the peak of the Omicron-induced wave."In aggregate, as cases in major provinces like Jakarta and Banten has declined, in West Java and East Java has reached their peak, and in Central Java has sloped down, I think in the next one or two weeks, the country-wide cases will decline," Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Sunday.
The latest projection from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a Seattle-based global health research institute at the University of Washington, showed Indonesia's new cases have peaked last week and may see the number drop to below 10,000 per day by the end of next week.
During the planned trial period, foreign travelers coming to Bali must meet several requirements, Luhut said.
First, they must show payment for hotel bookings that have been paid for at least four days. Second, they must have received complete or booster vaccine doses against Covid-19.
Third, they will take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival and agree to wait for the results in their hotel room until the negative test results come out. Today, the standard test result usually comes out in 24 hours, but one can pay more for an expedited result.
"After being declared negative, they can be free to do any activities," Luhut said. The foreign travelers will take another PCR test on the third day at their respective hotels.
For international events held in Bali during this trial period without quarantine, the participants will be required to take daily antigen tests without exception.
The government will also revoke the obligation to have a sponsor for tourist e-visa requests because it is considered burdensome for foreign tourists who will enter Bali, Luhut said.
Indonesia's announcement came four days after neighboring Thailand announced easing the Covid-19 restrictions for the international travelers, requiring only one night quarantine for those fully vaccinated. The Philippines and Australia have also opened its border to fully vaccinated foreign travelers earlier this month.