Police warn of COVID-19 risk as law sparks mass protests

Police warn of COVID-19 risk as law sparks mass protests

Jakarta Metropolitan Police conduct rapid tests on 200 protesters detained near the Parliament Complex in Central Jakarta on Wednesday (October 7, 2020). (ANTARA/Fianda SJofjan Rassat/sh)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Mass rallies to protest the passage of the omnibus law on job creation would increase the risk of coronavirus transmission, spokesperson for the Jakarta Metropolitan Police, Senior Commissioner Yusri Yunus, said here on Thursday.

“Do not make it (rallies) as a new cluster,” Yunus cautioned.

According to Yunus, 27 protesters were found reactive to COVID-19 in a rapid test in West Jakarta, while three others tested positive. They were quarantined in a shelter in Pademangan, North Jakarta.

He voiced the concern that mass rallies organized since Monday (October 5, 2020) to protest the new law would increase COVID-19 transmission, not only among protesters, but also personnel deployed to secure the rallies.

So far, Jakarta Police have detained 450 protesters participating in demonstrations that turned violent on Thursday.

Yunus said the police had received a notification from labor unions on the planned demonstrations, but no permit had been issued on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Jakarta Metro Police have deployed over nine thousand personnel as a precautionary measure against protests over the House's newly approved omnibus law on job creation for the Greater Jakarta area.

Along with the police, National Armed Forces (TNI) personnel and regional government units have also been stationed to guard significant locations as well as for conducting patrols.

The House of Representatives (DPR) and the Indonesian government on Monday passed the controversial omnibus bill into law amid mounting criticism over its provisions on labor rights, indigenous community rights, and environmental protection.

The bill, according to its supporters, aims to increase both domestic and foreign investment inflow, while creating a more attractive investment climate, in the next five years, following the President's re-election last year. (INE)

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