No more lockdown please, Indonesians say

JAKARTA • With the worst coronavirus outbreak in South-East Asia taking a toll on Indonesia’s economy and jobs, a majority of the nation’s citizens oppose the continuation of strict social-distancing orders to contain the deadly disease, according to a survey.

The government should prioritise efforts to revive the economy rather than tackling the virus spread, majority of the participants in a poll conducted by independent surveyor Indikator Politik Indonesia said. Those opposed to tough mobility restrictions, known as PSBB, jumped to 60.6% from 34.7% in May, the July 13-16 survey showed.

With most cities and provinces, including capital Jakarta, easing curbs, household economic conditions have improved from May when it was seen as the worst since 2004, the surveyor said. The relaxation in what was already a set of loose social-distancing measures has sparked a record surge in cases from Jakarta to Surabaya, the nation’s largest cities and commercial centres.

The pandemic has hit Indonesia harder than the 1997 Asian financial crisis, battering small and big businesses alike, President Joko Widodo said last month. The outbreak has rendered millions of people jobless and may plunge more people into poverty with the country potentially heading into the first recession in more than two decades.

New cases in Jakarta jumped 433 on Tuesday, a daily record, taking the total infections to almost 90,000, official data showed. The world’s fourth-most populous nation is the worst virus-hit country in South- East Asia, with a death toll of 4,320 (at press time). Confirmed cases have almost tripled since authorities began easing mobility rules in early June, according to the Health Ministry data.

The government’s approval rating rose to 60.2% from 56.4% in May, while 65.1% survey participants were satisfied with the performance of Jokowi, as the president is known, Indikator said.

Other highlights of Indikator survey are:

• 69.2% of respondents rated the economy as bad and very bad, down from 81% in May.

• About 58% participants believe Jokowi can handle the pandemic and mitigate its impact, down from 67.7% in May.

• 63.1% people want local election scheduled for December to be postponed until the virus outbreak is contained.

• Survey conducted among 1,200 participants over phone using random sampling method, Indika- tor said. — Bloomberg