Follow these handy tips to stay safe and keep up-to-date on the situation in Bali & Indonesia, including travel bans & visa restrictions.
No matter how hard you try, there’s no escaping the news of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis – but there are ways to avoid getting sick, and more importantly, ways to reduce the spread of the virus. If you’re currently in Indonesia or have an upcoming holiday planned to Bali, you’re no doubt wondering, “is Bali safe“, or “should I cancel my holiday to Indonesia?”.
Well, the simple answer is that Indonesia is still safe for those who are fit, healthy and following correct hygiene and isolation procedures, but to help minimise the spread of the virus, you should consider rescheduling any upcoming trips until the pandemic is under control. Furthermore, as of Friday 20th March, Indonesia suspended Visas on Arrival, and encouraged visitors to return to their home countries.
Currently, the Indonesian borders are still open, but to give you a better idea of the current COVID-19 situation in both Bali & Indonesia, here we dive into what the virus means for visitors to Indonesia (including expats and holidaymakers who are already here), and the necessary precautions and preventive measures to take when travelling to Bali…
What is the current Coronavirus situation in Bali & Indonesia?
As of today (28th March 2020), Indonesia is still sitting fairly low on the risk-level assessment (currently at Level 2), with nine confirmed cases in Bali, and a total of 1046 confirmed cases throughout Indonesia. Top tip: you can track live updates of confirmed cases country-by-country here, or follow Indonesia-specific statistics here.)
That being said, Indonesia has reportedly only tested a small number of patients, so the number of reported cases is likely inaccurate. What’s more, tests have predominantly been conducted in and around Jakarta, so other islands within Indonesia are not guaranteed to be Coronavirus-free, and the government is yet to release specific locations of confirmed cases. So, in order to keep yourself safe and to minimise your risk of catching the virus (or any other kind of illness for that matter) remain vigilant and take the initiative to self-isolate as much as possible to help curb the spread of the disease.
What are the current visa restrictions in Bali?
As of March 20th 2020, the Indonesian government suspended all Visas On Arrival for one month. This means that only those with official visas granted from overseas embassies will be allowed entry (e.g Social visas, Business visas, KITAS & KITAP etc) and visas will only be granted to those applicants who submit health certificates from relevant authorities.
Furthermore, any foreign travellers who have visited the following countries in the last 14 days will be denied entry: Iran, Italy, Vatican, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Should your passport or travel history indicate that you’ve travelled to the countries above in the last 14 days, you may be refused entry to Indonesia.
For Indonesian citizens currently overseas, the government is urging you to return home immediately. Additional screening shall be carried out, and for suspected cases of COVID-19, a 14-day observation in a government facility will be applied. If no symptoms are found, a 14-day self-quarantine will be strongly recommended.
Top tips for those currently in Indonesia
Wash your hands frequently with soap. This may seem obvious, but it’s about time we all started washing our hands properly. That means thoroughly lathering the backs of your hands, in-between your fingers, and under your nails. Scrub for at least 20 seconds (or for as long as it takes to hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice) and then dry your hands with a clean towel. Use a hand sanitiser if you can’t wash your hands immediately.
Avoid contact with live animals, poultry and birds. That means that your visit to the zoo needs to be put on hold for a while, and that sushi and sashimi you’ve been craving? You might want to wait on that also, because the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended against the consumption of raw or undercooked meat. (Psst – luckily Bali is home to some awesome plant-based restaurants if you really want to be safe…)
Avoid crowded places and contact with people who are unwell. Yup, unfortunately it’s not the best time to rub shoulders with the masses at one of Bali’s biggest nightclubs – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of Bali’s secluded destinations and off-the-beaten path adventures. Self-quarantining? Try these fun things to do at home.
Down with a fever, cough or the flu? Wear a mask and seek medical attention right away. If you haven’t been able to get your hands on a mask, cover your mouth with tissue paper whenever you cough or sneeze, and dispose of the tissue in a rubbish bin immediately. Psst… there’s no need to wear a mask if you’re well – save it for incase you need it.
Boost your immunity. A good one to practice not only during an outbreak but in everyday life too: boost your health and look after your immune system. Slurp on juices and coconuts (or even try one of Bali’s best juice cleanses), clock in enough exercise with an online class from one of Bali’s best gyms or yoga studios, and treat yourself to some stress-melting pampering with an at-home massage from one of Bali’s best spas. Top tip: try Indonesia’s age-old elixir of Jamu – a potent mixture of turmeric, tamarind, and sometimes ginger, lime and honey too. It’s an immunity-boosting traditional medicine that Indonesians swear by!
Check your travel and health insurance. If you booked your Bali holiday before the Coronavirus outbreak, chances are, your insurance is still valid. For everyone else, you will need to confirm with your provider to determine whether any COVID-related issues will be covered – that includes medical treatment, flight cancellations, and even accommodation allowances if you happen to be held up anywhere. Luckily, many airlines and hotels are waiving cancellation fees and honouring refunds.
Leave the toilet roll behind. Sorry, but panic-buying is not the answer when it comes to an outbreak. Emptying the shelves by excessively buying day-to-day products (whether that be toilet roll, soap, masks or hand sanitiser) is simply dangerous. Panic-buying limits stock for people who actually need it (e.g hospitals, those with pre-existing medical conditions, and the elderly) and it also drives up normal prices, leaving the poor in jeopardy too. Just buy what you need, and leave the rest for others.
Listen to WHO & CDC. With so much misinformation and media hype out there, it’s important to listen to reputable sources. For all accurate updates, travel advice and support, check out WHO Indonesia and the Official CDC website.
Consider the positives
We get it – travelling right now is a no-no, with many countries currently on lockdown. But it’s not all doom and gloom. If you’re healthy and you’re already in Indonesia and planning on staying (or can’t make it home), then there are plenty of positives to keep in mind. Here’s a few to consider:
A ray of hope (& sunshine). It’s been suggested that warmer climates may ward off the virus better than countries with cold weather, so if this is true, then there’s no better place to be than right here in sunny Bali. Check out Bali’s quiet beaches, or self-isolate in the sunshine at your sun-soaked villa or hillside hotel.
GO-JEK is a godsend. Thanks to Indonesia’s app-based delivery service, self-isolation has never been easier. Download this app and you’ll have access to food from your favourite cafes and restaurants, and you can even shop remotely at your local supermarket or pharmacy thanks to the Go-Jek superheroes. Need to buy groceries, clothes or household goods? Try these online retailers.
Isolation by design. Compared to most western countries with their densely populated cities and close-living quarters, Bali’s wide open spaces and often palatial accommodation makes social-distancing a tropical breeze. If there’s anywhere in the world to avoid coming into contact with the masses, it’s here…
Affordable travel. Right now, there’s plenty of deals and discounts on hotels if you’re planning on self-isolating on the island, including awesome stays surrounded by nature. And while you’re there, we recommend supporting small local businesses who’ll be struggling through the economic downturn. Eat local food, shop Bali-born brands, and choose a humble guesthouse or independent hotel over an international chain.
What to watch out for
Wherever you are in the world, it goes without saying that monitoring your health is essential – especially if you’ve recently travelled. Much like the flu, the virus can transfer via close contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It can also spread when you touch your mouth, nose or eyes after touching infected surfaces or objects, as well as by faecal contamination.
The symptoms of Coronavirus are similar to regular pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses. That includes a sore throat, cough, fever and even shortness of breath for severe cases. If you do feel unwell or experience any of these symptoms (particularly if it’s within two weeks of travelling) then contact your doctor immediately. In Bali, it’s recommended to call 112 to speak to emergency services first, before visiting Sanglah Hospital.
Honestly? It’s relatively straightforward. Outbreak or not, observing basic personal hygiene is key and being socially responsible is pretty obvious. With a little initiative and awareness, we can kick the Novel Coronavirus in the butt and continue enjoying life in paradise…
Let’s do this, people!