Along with the improving situation and conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia, the government through the Ministry of Communication and Information (Kominfo) allowed the implementation of large-scale activities.
“Considering the need for us to accommodate community activities in order to remain productive, but also safe from COVID-19, the government can now give permission to hold large-scale events and meetings involving many people, as long as they comply with the implementation guidelines that have been set,” said Minister of Communications and Informatics Johnny G. Plate in a press release, in Jakarta, Tuesday (28/9).
Johhny explained that the policy was carried out to support the acceleration of national economic recovery, especially in the tourism sector which was quite hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts to restore the tourism sector, he said, are expected to be an engine driving economic activity and have a positive derivative impact on other sectors.
The large-scale activities in question are conferences, trade fairs, sporting events, concert festivals, parties and large wedding events. Johhny gave an example of the League 1 and League 2 soccer competitions, as well as the XX Papua National Sports Week (PON) this year as examples of large-scale activities being carried out.
Johhny also underlined, permission to hold large meetings or activities can be given during the COVID-19 case
under control. In addition, the implementation must also be supported by careful preparation and the commitment of the organizers to prioritize the health and safety of everyone involved.
According to Johnny, there are six risk factors for transmission that must be avoided when a large event is held during the COVID-19 pandemic, namely the condition of COVID-19 cases in the area where the activity takes place; the potential for transmission during activities in public places due to the distance between participants and poor air circulation; the longer the duration of the activity, the higher the risk of transmission; management of indoor activities with poor air circulation, has the opportunity to increase transmission; the large number of participants makes the potential for transmission even greater; and participant actors who have not been fully vaccinated and do not follow health protocols in a disciplined manner, can increase the chance of transmission.
Therefore, to reduce the chance of transmission, the government has set guidelines for the implementation of large activities, namely providing health education for all participants before the big event takes place, compiling implementation guidelines with contingency plans, ensuring facilities, facilities and infrastructure supporting health protocols are completely available.
Then, when the event is held, the organizers must do several important things, including ensuring that: screening health before the activity takes place, ensuring that supporting medical devices are sufficient and easily accessible during the activity, ensuring that each participant complies with health protocols including outside the activity area, immediately referring positive cases detected during the activity for isolation/treatment. Then, after the event is over, the organizers must ensure that no positive cases pass to return to their home areas.
Johnny explained that in order to support the success and security of organizing large events, the government asked all parties, including local governments, organizers, and the community to comply with the guidelines for organizing large events.
Meanwhile, Spokesperson for the COVID-19 Task Force (Satgas) Prof Wiku Adisasmito reiterated that permits for large-scale activities will be carried out in areas where the pandemic situation is quite under control. In addition, he hoped that the party holding the event would form a special dedicated task force to oversee compliance with health protocols during the activity. The various easings that the government has begun to implement, said Wiku, are solely so that people can remain productive in carrying out various activities, while remaining safe from COVID-19.
“The gradual opening of community social activities is not something to be afraid of excessively, as long as all elements are committed to maintaining and carrying out the progress collectively. It is time for us to move forward to restore community productivity after controlling cases well enough,” said Wiku.
Don’t Let the Yoyo Effect Happen
Epidemiologist from Australia’s Griffith University Dicky Budiman said the easing plan by allowing large-scale events could not be carried out in all regions in Indonesia. According to him, the easing can be carried out in areas that have a strong foundation, such as the 3T strategy (testing, tracing, treatment) and coverage of the complete dose of COVID-19 vaccination which is already more than 60 percent.
“This easing decision must really be carried out selectively, gradually and also measured periodically because not all have a strong foundation. Although absolute number data such as the positivity rate test or effective reproduction show improvement, not all regions have a strong foundation for the emergence or production of absolute numbers. What is that strong foundation? 3T, 5M and vaccinations,” he told VOA.
According to him, the government should learn from the experiences of other countries in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. He gave an example of Singapore, where the full dose vaccination coverage has reached 82 percent, and the 3T strategy is very strong and can still find many cases in the community. He also reminded that various improvements to the pandemic situation in Indonesia cannot be immediately relaxed.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to rush to commit violations. Because of what? So that there is no yo-yo effect. The yo-yo effect will come back later, this is our own loss,” he explained.
Dicky again gave the example of Norway, which delayed the decline from level 2 to level 1 for approximately six months, even though if viewed from epidemiological indicators it was possible for the country to go down to a looser level. However, the postponement was carried out to really ensure that the pandemic situation in the country was under control.
“This is an example that we must be mature and careful, measured. For the Indonesian context, it doesn’t have to take up to six months. One month is relatively sufficient from one level to the next to ensure a strong foundation. The foundation that we build upon when we enter level 1 or better with large-scale easing, be it concerts or whatever, is already strong with a strong 3T. Then the community also understands the process, and it becomes a new habit that is carried out in a disciplined manner by all parties, “he concluded. [gi/lt]