Indonesia plans to reopen to tourists from some countries as Covid-19 cases fall

Government considers accepting tourists from South Korea, Japan, Singapore and New Zealand

An all but empty street in a tourist area of Kuta in Bali, Indonesia, where the government plans to welcome tourists from some countries in October. EPA
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Indonesia may allow foreign tourists to start returning to the popular resort island of Bali and other parts of the country by October after a sharp fall in Covid-19 case numbers, senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan said on Friday.

The South-East Asian nation intends to move cautiously to reopen its borders after a devastating second virus wave, driven by the Delta variant.

Mr Luhut, Co-ordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs, said the addition of confirmed cases of Covid-19 had dropped by 94.5 per cent since a peak in mid-July.

"We are happy today that the reproduction rate is below 1 ... it is the lowest during the pandemic and is indicating the pandemic is under control," Mr Luhut said.

Other positive signs included the national hospital bed occupancy rate falling below 15 per cent, while the positivity rate, or the proportion of people tested who are positive, was below 5 per cent, he said.

Mr Luhut said if the trend continued "we are very confident" that Bali could be reopened by October.

South Korea, Japan, Singapore and New Zealand are among the first countries from where the government is considering accepting foreign citizens, given the low virus spread in those nations, he said.

Indonesia's health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told Reuters this week that reopening to foreigners also hinged upon 70 per cent of the target population receiving their first Covid-19 shot.

More than 21 per cent of the targeted 208 million have been fully vaccinated, while almost 40 per cent have received their first shot, according to health ministry data.

Updated: September 18, 2021, 5:54 AM