Indonesian officials in Central Java province have gotten creative with their punishments for quarantine violators, forcing them to stay in a haunted house, Coconuts Jakarta reported Monday.
In recent weeks, many natives from Sragen Regency in Central Java have returned to their villages from large towns and cities to try and escape the lockdown. There are also a number of people under surveillance over suspicions that they are carrying the Chinese coronavirus and could infect others.
These two groups have consequently been warned to stay home by the authorities for at least 14 days. Rather than threaten with fines or even jail time, the Regent of Sragen Kusdinar Untung Yuni Sukowati pledged to send violators to abandoned or haunted houses.
“If they disobey self-isolation [orders], several villages have asked for my permission to quarantine them in an abandoned elementary school or abandoned houses,” said Kusdinar, according to Tribun. “I gave my permission. If need be, they should be locked inside — in a haunted house if necessary. But we’d still feed them and monitor them.”
Two residents of Plupuh village have already discovered that Kusdinar was not joking when she made the threat.
“Two Plupuh residents agreed to self-isolate but they violated the order,” she said. “So they were locked inside an abandoned haunted house. Had they obeyed their order they wouldn’t have been locked in there.”
She did not specify how long the two men’s stay would last.
One of the reasons why Kusdinar opted for abandoned buildings is that the region has no quarantine facilities, meaning it is one of the few places carriers of the disease can be isolated from the wider public.
The Jakarta Globe reported Monday that after weeks of soaring cases, Indonesia now appears to be over the worst of the pandemic after it reported a sharp drop in new cases and an increase in the number of patients recovering from the virus compared to those who died from the illness. The country has so far recorded 6,760 cases and 590 deaths, a relatively low figure given the size of its 200 million population.
Although President Jodo Wikodo has imposed some social distancing measures, Indonesia is one of the few countries that has not instigated a nationwide lockdown and where millions of people are still traveling to work. However, this weekend he did instruct police and the military to punish both persons under surveillance (ODP) and patients under observation (PDP) who broke their quarantine orders.
“The president has instructed medical workers, assisted by the Indonesian Military and the National Police, to take measures against people in the ODP and PDP categories who ignore the restrictions,” said Doni Monardo, head of the National Coronavirus Task Force, on Monday.
“We’ve received recommendations to install CCTV at factories, and also to do more inspections at offices,” he added. “The Task Force calls on all business leaders, high-ranking officials and human resources managers to obey the government’s work-from-home policy.”