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Business preparations for impact as Jakarta goes to second block




Yuddy Cahya Budiman

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Signs of a rulcaster year have been plastered over Jakarta restaurant small plastic barrier sutiwets on counters, stickers on glass urging customers to wear masks and a gallon of water before people wash their hands.

A man holding a fishing pole walks past a mural honoring frontline workers, reading ‘Our soul and body are for the country’ as the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 8, 2020 REUTERS / Willy Kurniawan
A woman wearing a face mask works at a food stall as the Indonesian capital Jakarta turns into major social restrictions amid the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 14, 2020. REUTERS / Adi Kurniawan
Street vendors wait for customers outside the National Monument complex (Monas) as the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) continues in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 11, 2020. REUTERS / Willy Kurniawan

But as life in the Indonesian capital was beginning to return to normal, 10 million city dwellers are going for the second time in partial stalemate.

Jakartas tightened social restrictions, effective from Monday for two weeks, meaning businesses, malls and places of worship can only operate with limited capacity, while eating in restaurants and cafes is not allowed.

Small business owners like Sutiwet, who like many Indonesians go by just one name, are preparing for economic impact.

We almost managed to survive in the first round of large-scale social constraints and here comes another, Sutiwet, 45, told Reuters.

For now, I am relieved that we are almost surviving, but it will definitely have an impact on revenue.

The second round of social constraints, known locally as PSBB, comes amid an increase in cases of COVID-19 and as Jakartas 67 designated full-capacity coronavirus hospitals.

The capital has recorded a daily average of more than 1,000 new cases this month, with 43,400 cases in total and 1,330 deaths since March, according to government data.

Months in pandemic businesses are feeling the crisis, said Shinta Khamdani, of the Indonesian employers’ association.

This policy (PSBB) is very deadly for us, depressing demand so much that there is no incentive for businesses to improve our economic performance, Khamdani said. Right now, businesses are desperately trying to maintain their existence.

If social constraints apply long-term, many small and medium-sized enterprises will not survive, she said.

With more than 218,000 cases of coronavirus nationwide, the Indonesian government faces the difficult challenge of balancing health and economic concerns as the country faces a recession in the third quarter.

Going to work on Monday, Lila Pratiwi, 34, said she was trying to adapt.

Public transport is my biggest concern, the government should pay attention as most of the new groups come from offices and public transport, she said. So I decided to walk today.

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