Nyepi and COVID-19 Lockdown in Bali

28/03/2020

From Nyepi to Lockdown

Bali operates the most comprehensive and complete lockdown in the world every year for Nyepi to celebrate Balinese New Year and cleanse the spirits. Nyepi, also known as ‘silent day’ fell on the 25th March from 6 am, to 6 am the following day. The lockdown is so complete, you cannot leave your house, make a sound or even have a light on. It's a normal event here which is loved by the Balinese to spend quality time with their family (similar to Christmas).

In the days before Nyepi, there would normally also be a parade known as ‘Ogoh Ogoh’ where locals would carry fantastic handcrafted effigies of mythological creatures through the streets, with traditional music and celebrations. The parade is a highlight for tourists and is welcome entertainment to the contrast of silent day. Unfortunately, yet understandably so, the parades were cancelled this year as Bali continues to introduce measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Lockdown on The Bukit

This year the governor decided to introduce social distancing controls for an additional four days after Nyepi and, while this edict applies throughout the whole island, different regions and villages have handled this differently. A few surf breaks are still open but most seem closed.

uluwatu-surf-break-closed-covid-19-bali

Information is patchy but everywhere is much quieter, with everyone on The Bukit observing social distancing and generally appearing to only head out for essentials.

Following Nyepi, beaches in The Bukit have been locked down until the 30th March at which time we expect further information. Denpasar is strictly locked down for 5 days and you can only go out to buy food.

As we understand it Canggu was closed from 24th but then reopened on 26th while most other places were on lockdown. Canggu is normally bustling with people, so the worry here is that not enforcing stricter rules on such a busy area is going to have devastating consequences in the coming weeks.

It’s hard to know what is happening in the rest of Bali with official regulations being actioned at local levels. It seems that some places have stayed open and some places closed, but it’s generally very quiet.

We have taken this opportunity to give the surf camp a deep clean and spend time on additional staff training.

International Coronavirus Impact

With friends and family all over the world, we have been doing our best to keep up with international news. In the UK you are allowed to go out and exercise once a day — a walk or run for example — but surfing isn’t allowed. In Australia, you can only go to the beach if you live within 2km and surfing is acceptable. Peru is currently under a very tight lockdown.

Different countries, of course, have different measures in place and different levels of exposure to the virus.

Jakarta has a significant problem with the virus and there is pressure on the government to lock down that region. A huge risk here is workers leaving Jakarta for annual festivals and spreading the virus throughout Java and beyond to other islands.

The Chinese government donated forty tons of medical supplies and capacity has been ramped up in Jakarta with the creation of a temporary field hospital, but it would be impossible to manage a pandemic were it to spread to all the islands.

The hope for Indonesia is that it can be contained within Jakarta and the government make the right decisions and appropriate actions, which must involve restrictions of movement and curbs to be effective in saving the general population.

Everyone is hoping the viral tsunami does not hit here and some services will reopen on March 30th. For the immediate future, Bali is struck very badly economically with so many places closing indefinitely and it will get much worse before the situation improves.

Big shout out to all health workers and social carers everywhere in the world on the front line. Huge sympathy to Italy and Spain and we hope Indonesia and other countries don't suffer such a terrible fate.