Various images showing hundreds of people demanding to greet President Joko Widodo during his visit to Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) yesterday have been widely circulated as they highlight a worrying lack of crowd management and respect for the protocol of health in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.
RumahAksara ™ (@didienAZHAR) February 23, 2021
According to Bey Machmudin, an assistant in the Presidential Secretariat, people were already waiting on the sides of the street when the convoy of presidents has arrived. The crowd eventually came closer to get a better look at Jokowi, who was still in the car as it all unfolded.
Jokowi then greeted the crowd by appearing from the car’s sunroof, waving his hand and showing his face mask, gesturing for members of the crowd to wear theirs. At one point, he also threw clothes and books at the crowd as gifts.
Although most people appeared to wear masks, there was clearly a lack of social distancing and crowd management, which quickly drew criticism online. It is, after all, quite remarkable that the enthusiasm of the public did not seem to have been properly anticipated during a presidential visit.
The president always reminded people to follow health protocols, Bey told local media in response to the controversy.
Jokowi, in theory, should have little risk of catching COVID-19 from appearing so close to crowds, as he was the first person in Indonesia to be vaccinated against the disease through the country’s mass vaccination program.
Read more news and updates from Bali and eastern Indonesia here.
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