Indonesia has deployed its troops and police officers to enforce safe distancing and mask wearing measures as the nation gears up to embrace the so-called “new normal.” The move comes as several reports in the past weeks show many people flout the said restrictions in the world’s fourth most populous country.
About 340,000 officers will be deployed in four provinces – West Java, Jakarta, Gorontalo and West Sumatra – starting Monday, 1 June, to streamline Indonesia’s transition to the “new normal,” according to Indonesian military chief Hadi Tjahjanto.
This is in line with the recommendation of the presidential task force on fighting COVID-19 that the country needs to embrace wearing masks, social distancing and good hand hygiene as part of normal, day-to-day life in combating the disease.
“We will monitor people to ensure people are wearing masks, and are also maintaining a safe distance from others. What we want is that people can do their activities and at the same time stay safe from COVID-19,” said Hadi.
Officers will be deployed at malls, on streets and other strategic locations.
Just days ago, people flocked to local markets in the capital, many without masks on, and shopped for new clothes for Eid, the celebration at the end of the Islamic fasting month. Weeks prior to that, a crowd at an airport in Jakarta went viral on social media, with many criticising how their fellow citizens endangered the lives of health care workers by not observing basic precautions.
Indonesia has faced mounting criticism from health experts since March for its late response to the pandemic. In recent weeks, regulatory backflips concerning social restrictions, travel and work have also caused confusion among the public.