It’s been now 8.5 months since Indonesia has closed its border as a measurement against Covid-19, and since we have been without business, as many of us here and in the world.
As all countries Indonesia has been hit by the virus unexpectedly and unprepared. The Indonesian government has taken numerous measures to respond to Covid-19 pandemic. Besides the big lockdown straight at the beginning, it has also introduced several exempts from customs, excise fee and income taxes, and allowed the regional governments to decide whether to allow schools to return back to classroom-teaching. Indonesian students and pupils have been on online-teaching since March. Some of them have limited access to necessary appliances and internet.
According to the Indonesian government, it has ordered 50 million vaccines, some 30 million vaccines to be available by the end of this year. The Presidential Decree assigns state-owned pharmaceutical company PT Bio Farma to procure the vaccine in cooperation with international institutions.
A risk-zone map introduced by the Indonesian government can be seen here
So, is it safe in Indonesia? What do people and businesses do? When does it end?
With our latest update – before we all welcome the New Year with hopefully better prospectus – we’d like to inform you about our local situation, the case numbers in Nusa Tenggara Timur, and when finally tourists can come for diving to Indonesia again.
We hope that providing local information on Covid-19 in Indonesia would help you to get a better understanding, and you might find some answers to questions such as above.
What is happening in Labuan Bajo, Flores, Komodo?
A lot – to be honest with you. Firstly, the town Labuan Bajo gets a completely new look. Soon it will welcome its guests with modern and comfortable infrastructure such as new and safe pathways, promenades with palm trees, modern shopping malls, new cafes serving international delights and local coffee, a bigger selection of accommodation and restaurants.
Secondly the area has been safe with a moderate number of cases so far. We can’t say here is “business as usual” but life goes on. Supermarkets, official offices, banks, fashion stores, fruits and vegetable markets are all open. As per regional government hotels, restaurants, bars, tour operators can operate and serve guests as well. Yet there are no guests! Hence almost all businesses related to tourism are closed.
Our dive centre is open and can welcome guests, since the Bintang Flores Hotel, that’s where our dive centre is located, is open as well. Yet we have had only 2 guests each in the last two months (and zero guests since March 2020). That hurts!
Guests arriving in Labuan Bajo must show a negative Covid-19 test no older than 14 days. Travelers would need this test at the airport, at the check-in of the accommodation as well as for the bookings of dive trips with us.
A handbook with health protocols and guidance has been issued by the Ministry of Tourism and DAN Indonesia to ensure that all activities related to tourism are carried out with best practices to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Businesses are being audit to make sure we all apply the rules and provide safe service both to employees and our guests.
A funny side-effect of the measurements is that now you can wash your hands everywhere which is really practical and pleasant. And of course, it should help to stop the spread of the virus.
Masks are obligation everywhere! There are police controls, security people at the entrance to the bank won’t let you in without a mask, and the seller in the pharmacy will not serve you. People take it easy. We all just have a mask on and spare one in the pocket.
Current Covid-19 cases in Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT), Labuan Bajo, Komodo
As of Dec 2nd 549,508 total cases with 17,199 deaths, and 458,880 recoveries have been recorded in Indonesia.
- NTT: 1,271 total cases, 21 deaths, 727 recovered (population 4,68 million)
- Bali: 14,420 total cases, 437 deaths, 12,865 recovered (population 4.22 million)
Indonesia has a population of 267 million.
According to some conversations with people working in the hospitals, in Labuan Bajo there are no current cases treated in a hospital.
How safe is it to visit Indonesia?
We can’t answer this question unfortunately. The low case numbers might be due to low numbers of tests, of course. One could also doubt the statistics; same as anywhere in the world. It could be, however, that the relatively hot air temperatures in a tropic island make the virus less survivable.
Besides this, the fact that life on the islands like our Flores Island happens rather outdoors might be in favour as well. In Labuan Bajo, there are no big buildings with several floors of offices. Most jobs are executed in open area or outdoors. We’ve read news from European countries that people are asked to avoid big crows such as in public transportation. Here on Flores we do not have public transportation, or subway, or elevators.
Wearing a mask has been a pretty usual thing even before Covid-19. Surely, the reason to wear a mask was rather another one; and therefore, the introduction of wearing masks as a measurement against Covid-19 has been accepted quickly.
In addition, government has taken strict measurements straight from the beginning. In months of April-June travelling between islands was stopped. And we speak about 17,000 islands and 267 million people. The biggest feast Idul Fitri which was at the end of May has been cancelled as well. Many people could not travel to their families. Businesses were stopped.
And although we do have cases, the hot climate, the habit of living and working outdoors, and maybe some kind of immunity due to viruses (influenza virus is also less present here) might be the facts for holding the case numbers relatively low. We all hope, and do our best, the situation will improve soon, and the spread of the virus can be stopped.
When will Komodo open for tourists?
Well, frankly spoken it is open for tourists. Domestic tourists and foreigners who are in Indonesia, both with a negative Covid-19 test, can visit Komodo National Park and Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT).
There is some not confirmed news about the re-opening of the boarders for foreign guests at the beginning of 2021.
For urgent matters however, foreigners can obtain a business visa to enter Indonesia for 60 days. Tourist visas are not issued at the moment.
Travelers can arrive in Labuan Bajo from Jakarta or Bali with a direct fly. Several airlines have already resumed their schedules.
What do we think?
It’s been almost a year for us without business. It is hard, as it is hard for every individual and a business. So far we could cover all running costs from our savings; we could keep the insurances for our team (which is one of the important facts in such crucial times); we serviced and maintained our boat, office and equipment.
We believe tourism will resume in 2021, on a small scale but it will. There are many friends and guests who wish to come for diving with us in Komodo. We want to survive and to be there for you when you can travel again.
In the meantime we stay active on our Social Media. We try to be informative and interesting for you. We have created a new section on our Instagram @wetfrogdiverskomodo called “Wet Secrets” where we discover secrets of underwater creatures in Komodo (and not only in Komodo). We also designed some cool ideas such as for example “a discount for a lifetime”. On our YouTube channel you can watch our videos about diving in Komodo and the Island Flores. Our Christmas gift box is ready, too. You can find all these details on our Instagram or Facebook page.
You have more questions; or a precise individual request in regards to Covid-19 and diving in Komodo? Or you would like to help and support us? Or you simply look for a Christmas gift?
Don’t hesitate, send us a message to our email email@example.com and we get in touch with you right away.
We look forward to you. Stay safe and happy.