INDONESIA: BATTLING COVID-19 THROUGH ENTRY RESTRICTIONS AND HEALTH PROTOCOLS
Since its emergence at the end of 2019, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) has spread rapidly to countries all over the world. As of 15 June 2020, Indonesian Task Force of COVID-19 announced that there are 38.277 cases and 2.134 deaths. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Government of the Republic of Indonesia (“GoI”) issued several policies, among other, to temporarily limit entry of people from outside Indonesia.
A. Temporary Restrictions for Foreigners from Entering Indonesian Territory
At the end of March 2020, GoI declared a status of national emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Immediately after the status of national emergency was announced, Minister of Law and Human Rights of Republic of Indonesia enacted Ministry of Law and Human Rights of Republic of Indonesia Regulation Number 11 of 2020 on Temporary Restrictions for Foreigners from Entering Indonesia (“MoLHR Regulation 11/2020”). MoLHR Regulation 11/2020 stipulates that foreign nationals (Warga Negara Asing or “WNA”) are temporarily prohibited from entering Indonesian territory which went into effects as of 2 April 2020.
Although restrictions for WNA to enter Indonesian territory are needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is undeniable that Indonesia still needs assistance from other countries’ human resources. Pursuant to such conditions, MoLHR Regulation 11/2020 also provides exemptions to:
- WNA with limited residency permit and permanent permit;
- WNA with diplomatic visa and official service visa;
- WNA with diplomatic residency permit and official residency permit;
- WNA with medical aid, medical support and food and humanitarian reasons;
- WNA as transportation crews; and
- WNA who will work on national strategic projects.
With regard to the last exemption on WNA who will work on national strategic projects, Minister of Law and Human Rights of the Republic Indonesia, Minister of Manpower of the Republic Indonesia, and Head of Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board on 15 May 2020 gave discretion for companies having strategic investment value, high manpower absorption, that is still in investment project completion process, and other considerations so long as they give benefits to the public. If the business is outside the national strategic projects category, such company can still hire WNA by writing a letter to the BKPM to obtain their recommendation and the recommendation must then be uploaded to an online system provided by the Ministry of Manpower of the Republic of Indonesia.
During this COVID-19 outbreak, visa or permit services at the Indonesian representative offices are limited. To simplify the procedures for WNA, MoLHR Regulation 11/2020 stipulates that WNA who hold visiting residency permit that has expired and/or unable to be extended, shall be automatically granted an emergency residency permit without submitting the application to the immigration office and without any fees charged. Same provision is also applied to WNA who hold limited residency permit or permanent residency permit that has expired and/or unable to be extended. To support this policy, the Indonesia’s Immigration Authority has issued a guidance to further regulates on the procedure to obtain emergency residency permit through Director General of Immigration Circular Letter No. IMI-GR.01.01-2493 of 2020.
However, strict supervision still needs to be carried out to WNA who is eligible to enter Indonesian territory in order to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in Indonesian Territory. To provide such supervision, MoLHR Regulation 11/2020 stipulates that WNA who is included as the above criteria shall fulfill several requirements which are: 1) Have obtained a health certificate in English from health authorities in the respective country; 2) have stayed for 14 (fourteen) days in the region/country that are free COVID-19; and 3) Have obtained statement of willingness to enter quarantine for 14 (fourteen) days which will be conducted by GoI.
B. Health Protocol for WNI and WNA to Enter Indonesian Territory at the Entry Point
Following the temporary restrictions for foreigners to enter Indonesian territory, Ministry of Health of Republic of Indonesia has issued a new health protocol that requires WNA and Indonesian nationals (Warga Negara Indonesia or “WNI”) to take several health measures. Such policy is governed under Minister of Health of Republic of Indonesia Circular Letter No. HK.02.01/MENKES/332/2020 on Health Protocol of Handling Indonesian and Foreign Nationals from Abroad at the Entrance of Borders in Preventing COVID-19 Spread (“MoH Circular Letter 2/2020”). MoH Circular Letter 2/2020 applies to the health protocol at the airports, seaports, or land borders (“Entry Point”) for WNI and WNA for entering the territory of Indonesia in order to prevent COVID-19 spread.
In line with the requirements to obtain health certificate, WNI and WNA coming from abroad should present health certificate in English that valid for a maximum of 7 days from its issuance, and also follow the procedure of health quarantine and additional health examination, and socialization on the application of the social distancing principle, mask usage, and clean and healthy life behavior principle shall be conducted to WNI and WNA in the Entry Point. Doctors in the Entry Point shall validate the health certificate that brought by the WNI and WNA.
An additional health examination will be conducted in the Entry Point. Such additional health examination
- Temperature and COVID-19 signs and symptoms examination;
- Oxygen saturation check; and
- Rapid test.
Pursuant to the rapid test, in the event that the result of the rapid test is non-reactive, such WNI or WNA will obtain health clearance from health workers at the quarantine facilities and will be allowed to enter Indonesian territory by carrying a travel permit from COVID-19 Task Force and a Health Alert Card (HAC) that has been given at the Entry Point. Such WNI or WNA shall conduct an independent quarantine at their respective residence for 14 (fourteen) days by applying physical distancing, mask usage, and clean and healthy behavior. For WNI, the health clearance shall be submitted to the state representative office (RT/RW) and for WNA, the health clearance shall be submitted to the state representative office or to the local port health office if the WNA does not have a representative of his country in Indonesia. Such health clearance will be forwarded to the health office of the respective districts to be monitored during the quarantine period.
RT-PCR examination at the entry point shall be conducted to WNI or WNA with reactive results from the rapid test. If it is not possible for the RT-PCR examination to be conducted at the entry point, a specimen for RT-PCR will be taken from the WNI or WNA and such specimen will be sent to laboratories or health facilities in the respective area that have the capacity to conduct RT-PCR examination. In the event that the result of RT-PCR examination is negative for COVID-19 and no disease and/or risk factors are found, the WNI or WNA shall be allowed to enter Indonesian territory. As the result of RT-PCR examination is positive for COVID-19, an independent isolation or referral action to an emergency hospital or referral hospital in the respective area shall be conducted to the WNI or WNA. However, for WNA who has no comorbid, fever symptoms, and/or respiratory illness symptoms, quarantine at quarantine facilities shall be conducted and such referral action will not be required.
COVID-19 has brought extraordinary impacts to Indonesia, not only to healthcare sectors, but also to the economy and business continuity. For such reason, it is important for the GoI to ensure the continuity of foreign businesses and investments in Indonesia so Indonesian economy will remain competitive. In relation with entry restrictions, GoI shall provide exemption for WNA who hold working permit from entry restrictions, so they will be able to work in Indonesia and continue their contribution to the foreign businesses and investment in Indonesia without additional complicated procedures compared to WNA who will work on national strategic projects. GoI shall also consider to implement gradual relaxation of entry restrictions country by country based on research and scientific data. By such implementation, WNA from several countries which has been considered safe from COVID-19 will be able exempted from entry restrictions and will be able to enter Indonesian territory by following health procedures as explained above.
Due to changes in policies and procedures related to immigration services, it is also important for the Directorate General of Immigration of Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia and immigration offices in Indonesia to increase the transparency and accountability of immigration services, by being responsive and approachable. DGI and Immigration offices in Indonesia shall also provide regular updates on information related to migration systems so WNI and WNA who wants to enter Indonesian territory will remain informed.
 MoLHR Regulation 11/2020, Article 2.
 Ibid., Article 3 paragraph (1).
 Ibid., Article 4.
 Ibid., Article 5.
 Ibid., Article 3 paragraph (2).
 MoH Circular Letter., Article 2 paragraph (a).
 Ibid., Article 2 paragraph (b).
 Ibid., Article 2 paragraph (c) point 1.
 Ibid., Article 2 paragraph (c) point 2.
 Ibid., Article 2 paragraph (c) point 3.