by Bambang Purwanto
JAKARTA, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia is gearing up for a new normal scenario despite the current growing number of COVID-19 cases in the country with Saturday's tally totaling 25,773 and the death toll amounting to 1,573.
Currently, crowds of people are still seen in public places like traditional markets, bus stations, railway stations, airports and traffic, especially those in Indonesia's big cities including Jakarta, West Java's capital of Bandung, and the country's second largest city of Surabaya in East Java province.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday visited a railway station in the capital city of Jakarta and a shopping center in West Java province's city of Bekasi to see whether or not they are ready with the planned new normal scenario.
The president ordered his ministers, chiefs of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) and the State Police (Polri) to massively deploy soldiers and policemen among the crowds to ensure that people follow the health protocols.
"As of today TNI and Polri will deploy their troops in an effort to make people more disciplined in abiding by the health protocols under the large-scale social distancing policy," the head of state said when closely observing activities at a railway station in Central Jakarta on Tuesday.
TNI and Polri will send their soldiers and policemen to four provinces, namely, Jakarta, West Java, West Sumatra and Gorontalo as well as 25 districts or cities which have been applying the large-scale social distancing policy, said the president.
The president expressed hope that the deployment of the troops would make the people more disciplined in exercising the health protocols in a bid to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak which has been affecting all the 34 provinces in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, TNI Commander Air Chief Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto said his soldiers are posted in public areas including traditional markets, tourist sites, traffic, shopping centers, railway stations and bus stations where the health protocols are implemented.
The cooperation among TNI, Polri and the COVID-19 Task Force was expected to meet the people's wish to resume activities free from the COVID-19 infections, Tjahjanto said in the hope that the R0 (a measure of a disease's potential) would drop to 0.7 or even lower.
According to the TNI chief, nearly 350,000 army men and policemen were sent to 1,800 points of the health protocols as of Tuesday.
In addition to the crowds in those places, the government is also aware of an exodus of people who will return to Jakarta and its surrounding areas to resume works and other businesses after celebrating the Islamic post-fasting festivity Eid-al-Fitr in their villages.
To anticipate possible new infections of the coronavirus likely carried by the returnees who usually bring more people from their villages, the government has enhanced alertness on areas which share borders with Jakarta and its satellite towns.
The Transportation Ministry predicted that some 1 million vehicles including cars and motorcycles would drive back to Jakarta and its neighboring areas up to June 1.
The government has issued a policy to ban people from going to their hometowns and urged those who are already in their villages to suspend their returns to Jakarta and its surrounding areas unless they have urgent reasons.
In response to the involvement of TNI and Polri in the government's measure to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, a member of the House of Representatives, Willy Aditya, believed that the massive deployment of the servicemen and policemen would improve people's compliance with the health protocols.
"The involvement of TNI and Polri is good. Such a measure should actually be taken since early to guarantee the people's compliance and discipline," said Aditya.
He was also upbeat that the government's measure would be successful provided that the military and police personnel in charge would work under strict procedures and rules void of severity in the hope the new normal scenario would be achieved.
In the meantime, Chairman of the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly Bambang Soesatyo reminded the government that the number of the COVID-19 cases in Indonesia is still on the rise.
"Thus, studies should be conducted seriously first in an effort to stop the increase in the COVID-19 cases before deciding to impose a new normal scenario in Indonesia," Soesatyo said, adding that there have been many people who make activities regardless of the undergoing large-scale social distancing policy.
He also called on the government and the COVID-19 Task Force to evaluate the rate of people's compliance with the health protocols in every area in the country to see whether or not the new normal scenario can be implemented.
Likewise, the COVID-19 Task Force should have valid data based on which the government can make an effective decision on the implementation of the expected new normal scenario, he said. Enditem