"We do not want the requirements to be too strict, especially considering that PCR tests are more expensive, compared to Yogyakarta and Surabaya. The COVID-19 Task Force's rules state that a rapid test is sufficient for domestic (flights) and PCR for overseas (flights)," said Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi at a virtual press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday.
He further said the rules are stipulated in Ministerial Decree number 41 of 2020 on the Changes in Ministerial Decree number 18 of 2020 on Transportation Management in the effort to Stem the Spread of COVID-19, issued by the minister on June 8, 2020.
“With this (rule’s) implementation, economic activities will be carried out again, which will have an impact by increasing travel activities and movement of people through transportation. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the transportation control rules in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the transportation sector," he said.
In addition to the scrapping of the PCR test rule, airlines have now also been allowed to operate flights at 70-percent occupancy, instead of 50 percent earlier.
"For example, the Ministerial Regulation (PM) no 18 rules that the capacity should be 50 percent. But now we see that there has been significant progress in maintaining health protocols. After lengthy discussions with airlines, task forces, and the Ministry of Health, for jet planes it (has been decided the occupancy) can be 70 percent. We have already calculated. There are conditions (that have been) set,” he said.
However, the minister added, the rules could change at any given moment, in accordance with the conditions on the field.
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In addition, director general of civil aviation at the Ministry of Transportation, Novie Riyanto, said the rule setting the maximum load of aircraft at 70 percent is in accordance with international regulations.
"The 70-percent rule is in accordance with the referred international rules, wherein, if health protocols are enforced, passengers wear masks, and cabins are cleaned continuously, then 70 percent (load capacity) will be sufficient," he explained.
In terms of health requirements, he said he believed rapid test results would be sufficient to allow passengers on board, especially considering the higher price of PCR tests.
"If there are no PCR and rapid tests (available) in certain locations, the (travel) documents can be completed with a health certificate," he stated.
He also said it would not be a problem if airlines decide to conduct their own rapid tests for passengers, in collaboration with the health authorities. (INE)
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