Offices in the Indonesian capital Jakarta have resumed operations since Monday, after working from home for the past two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Jakarta government announced last week that the large-scale social restriction (PSBB) measures will not be extended, yet replaced with a transition period to “new normal”.

As a result, workers in the capital city and buffer zones — Depok, Bogor, Tangerang, Bekasi — will start to work from office and their mobility reflect on the number of public transportation users, as well as the density of roads.

Kereta Commuter Indonesia (KCI), the operator of the Jakarta Commuter Line train, noted that the number of passengers rose by 287,000 on Monday.

“Meanwhile, around 180,000-200,000 passengers per day crowded the stations in the morning rush hours when the restrictions were in full effect in the past two months,” said the KCI’s Vice President of Communication Anne Purba.

The long queues in a number of stations occurred as the number of commuters allowed in each car depends on the Transportation Ministry’s policy of 35-40% of its full capacity or 74 commuters.

Anne also pointed out that many companies had not arranged working hours for transition period so the commuters still packed during rush hours.

“Arranging working hours is essential during this transition period. Companies should consider about operating hours and passenger capacity of public transportations as well,” she explained.

In addition, a number of roads in Jakarta were packed as many workers chose to commute with private vehicles. The situation has worsened as the odd-even policy to reduce traffic congestion has not been implemented.

Health protocols

Every passenger of commuter line is required to wear mask and maintain safe distance while standing or sitting down, in accordance with the signs prepared in each train car.

Iman Budianto, 26, a private employee in Jakarta, said he is obliged to follow health protocols whenever he commutes by commuter train.

But it is not easy to implement physical distancing in commuter line, especially during rush hours.

“I am still worried about the risk of virus transmission in crowded trains,” he added.

The Head of Advocacy and Community Affairs of Transportation Society Djoko Setijowarno said both the government and companies need to regulate activities during transition period.

“The sector that requires employees to work in offices must arrange new working hours schedule to reduce crowds during peak hours. They can not work at the same time and pace as before the pandemic,” he told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

“The root of this problem is not the transportation sector, but how the authorities regulate activities,” said Setijowarno, suggesting the companies to provide transportation for their employees.

Rapid test in offices

Companies are required to implement health protocols for their employees who return to work.

Mercyella Daeng Kanang, 27, said she had to undergo a rapid test outside the office building on her first day of work after restrictions.

Employees who showed a negative test result were allowed to work, while employees with reactive results were asked to self-quarantine and continue to undergo a swab test with the Polymerase Chain Reaction method.

“Our body temperature will be checked and our shoes must be sprayed with disinfectant before entering the office building,” Mercy told Anadolu Agency.

During the easing period, companies divided their employees’ work schedules, 50% work from office and 50% work from home, in accordance with government recommendations.

Office rooms will be sprayed with disinfectants regularly and every employee is obliged to wear a mask.

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