Several parts of Indonesia such as Jakarta, West Java, Banten, and West Sumatera have enforced large-scale social distancing measures (PSBB) in a bid to contain COVID-19 infection rates in the country, part of which has seen a ban on mass gatherings and restriction on the people’s mobility.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan on Wednesday (22 April) had even announced the extension of PSBB measures in the capital city to 22 May.
Many people in the affected regions, however, have raised concerns regarding how the restrictions will trigger crime, given that even sectors most badly hit by the pandemic such as airlines and hospitality are forced to cease their operations.
Hariyadi Budi Santoso Sukamdani, chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) hoped that besides putting people’s health as a top priority, the government would also pay attention to economic activities halted by the pandemic to avoid layoffs.
He added that several retailers and SMEs cannot pay their employees’ salaries, resulting in increased unemployment among the young generation.
Many fresh university graduates, Hariyadi noted, could not find a job due to the outbreak.
Secretary at the Coordinating Ministry of Economy, Susiwijono, said on Friday (24 April) that around 500,000 workers in Jakarta had been affected by the pandemic.
The number of retrenched workers in Jakarta is the highest in the country, he said.
To mitigate the problem of unemployment and retrenchment, the central government is distributing a pre-employment card (Kartu Pra-Kerja) and speeding up labour-intensive projects initiated by the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing.
Crime during social distancing on the rise
The crime rate has also increased by 11.8 per cent during the enforcement of PSBB, said the national police force.
Motorbike-theft and robbery targeting minimarkets are the most commonly seen crimes during the PSBB.
Head of Public Relations at the Jakarta Regional Police Commissioner Yusri Yunus said at a press conference on 18 April that robbers had switched their targets to minimarkets due to the government’s call for the public to stay at home.
Yunus added that his side is still tracking down three members of minimarket robbery syndicate, who have been operating since February until the implementation of PSBB in Jakarta.
Last week, Yunus stated that his side had nabbed a gang of motorbike thieves that has stolen 60 times, Tempo reported on 16 April.
Yunus, however, snubbed the link between robbery during the PSBB enforcement and the release of inmates to curb the COVID-19 spread.
Hasto Atmojo Suroyo, a criminologist at the University of Indonesia, told Harian Terbit that it was too early to link the rise in crime rates in Jakarta to the social distancing policy, as the crime rate in the capital had been high even before the PSBB was enforced.
So far, the central government has provided relief to low-income families in Indonesia in the form of cash aid and packages containing daily essentials to help them cope with the PSBB measures.
A woman who had passed away as a result of extreme hunger and psychological pressure after reportedly not eating for two days, however, in an interview with KompasTV which was broadcast a day before her death, said that she did not receive aid despite having applied for it.
Head of Serang City Communication and Information Office Hari Pamungkas said that while the late Yuli Nur Amelia’s family had been recorded as one of the beneficiaries of aid in the COVID-19 task force, the local administration had limited capability to distribute the aid.
“Our resources are limited. We need [the help from] everyone. We cannot work by ourselves. We need all society to work together and support each other. Let’s not blame each other. We all are facing this pandemic together,” said Hari.