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Jakarta’s malls reopen – but only to the vaccinated

Indonesia’s capital Jakarta allowed retail malls to reopen last week to an exclusive crowd – shoppers vaccinated against coronavirus.

With restrictions still in place in much of Indonesia, Jakarta’s malls are allowed to operate at 25-per-cent capacity to try to keep the economy moving, but customers must prove via a smartphone application that they’ve received at least one vaccination.

That puts them in a select group, with just one in five Indonesians given a shot so far under a mass-immunisation program that started in January.

“This is a positive measure for the shopping mall. So that visitors can be assured that everyone who enters the mall has been scanned and considered safe and healthy,” said Eka Dewanto, GM of Pondok Indah Mall in north Jakarta.

People inside the Pondok Indah shopping mall in Jakarta. IMage: Reuters/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana.

Indonesia is fighting to contain a long-running outbreak fuelled by the Delta variant, with more than 3.8 million cases and 115,000 deaths recorded overall, one of Asia’s worst epidemics.

Like many countries in Asia, Indonesia has struggled to secure vaccines fast enough amid fierce global competition, heightened by the rapid spread of the Delta variant.

Housewife Ilona Refita, 43, approves of the application used to enter the malls and just wants to get on with life.

“It’s impossible for us to keep staying at home and not doing things that are supposed to be done, right? We should protect ourselves,” she said.

Student Salsabilla, 23, said the application was good, but she was uncomfortable that her whereabouts were being recorded.

“I did wonder why my location needs to be tracked,” she said. “That worries me.”

Inside the Pondok Indah shopping mall after it reopened – to vaccinated shoppers only. Reuters/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana.
  • Additional reporting by Adi Kurniawan; Writing by Martin Petty and Giles Elgood, of Reuters.

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