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COVID-19: Indonesia suspends visa-free policy, expands ban for people from worst-hit countries

Apriza Pinandita The Jakarta Post Tue, March 17, 2020

Indonesia is set to suspend its visa exemption policy for all countries for one month and expand restrictions for people with a history of travel to some of the world’s countries hardest hit by the coronavirus in its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the archipelago.

The temporary suspension, which includes exemption for short-stay visits, visa-on-arrival and diplomatic visa-free facilities, and the new travel restrictions will all come into effect on Friday, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

The new policies came into force in view of the increased global spread of the coronavirus, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) had reached 152 countries as of Monday.

The Foreign Ministry said that “all foreigners or travelers who wish to visit Indonesia must obtain a visa from Indonesian missions in accordance with the purpose of their visit” and that “upon application, applicants must provide a health certificate issued by a relevant health authority from their respective countries”.

“All visitors or travelers must complete and submit a health alert certificate to the Health Quarantine Office upon arrival at Indonesian airports,” the ministry said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

The temporary travel ban, meanwhile, will bar people who have traveled to Iran, Italy, the Vatican, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom in the last 14 days from entering or transiting in Indonesia.

At the same time, Indonesia maintained travel restrictions for those with a history of travel to China — the country in which the coronavirus first emerged — as well South Korea’s hardest-hit regions of Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do.

The nations on the list are among countries with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

The policy will enter into force at midnight on Friday and will continue to be evaluated in accordance with global developments, the ministry said.

Additional screening by the Health Quarantine Office will be in place upon arrival for Indonesian citizens who have traveled to the aforementioned countries.

“If the additional screening shows initial symptoms of COVID-19, [citizens] should undergo a 14-day observation in a government facility. Meanwhile, if no initial symptoms are found, a 14-day self-quarantine will be strongly recommended,” the ministry said.

The government will continue to closely follow the WHO situation report on the spread of the coronavirus. “Given the increasing number of countries affected by COVID-19, the government advises all Indonesian citizens to restrict non-essential outbound travel.”

For Indonesian citizens currently traveling abroad, the government advised them to return to Indonesia at the earliest possible time to avoid further travel disruptions.

“Several countries have enacted policies to restrict the movement of persons. All Indonesian citizens are requested to closely monitor the available information through the Safe Travel application or contact the hotline of the nearest Indonesian mission,” the ministry added.

In its daily report on Monday, the WHO said two new countries in Africa, one new country in Europe and one new country in America had reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. The total number of cases and deaths outside mainland China has overtaken the total number of cases recorded inside.

At least 167,511 cases have been confirmed globally, resulting in 6,606 deaths to date. More than 79,400 people have recovered from the virus worldwide, Johns Hopkins University’s real-time data reported.

As of Tuesday, Indonesia has recorded 172 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with five cases that turned fatal, according to the government.

The ministry added that extensions of short visit passes for foreign travelers who are currently in Indonesia and have expired, as well as extensions of temporary stay permits (KITAS), permanent stay permits (KITAP), diplomatic visas and service visas held by people who are currently overseas and that will expire, shall be conducted in accordance with Law and Human Rights Ministerial Regulation No. 7/2020.

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/03/17/covid-19-indonesia-suspends-visa-free-policy-expands-ban-for-people-from-worst-hit-countries.html

From: THE JAKARTA POST, INDONESIA Tue, March 17, 2020

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