Indonesia’s Response to COVID-19: Within ICT Reliance and the Informal Sector’s Fiasco


Mira Fajri - PANDI .id Registry, Student of APIGA 2017, Fellow of APRIGF 2019

As from 28 January 2020, the Head of National Disaster Management Authority has enacted the outbreak of COVID-19 (in the world other than Indonesia) as a certain emergency. Adding to that move, on February 4th, Indonesia’s Minister of Health has issued a decree to anticipate COVID-19 as a disease that induced an outbreak. The decree identifies a list of relevant responses concerning the COVID-19 outbreak prevention, including having some restrictions in the country and county gateway.

Indonesia’s Response to COVID-19: Within ICT Reliance and the Informal Sector’s Fiasco

However, these enactments did not really seem to put the Government in a substantial early prevention action. It turned out to be meaningless as the government initiated a discount program for tourism and airlines on February 17th, thinking that there would be no COVID-19 infected in the territory.


The solution being implemented for the time being is a large-scale social restriction (PSBB) which meant to regulate people to avoid crowds, reduce any activity in public places, work from home, learn from home, and worship from home. 

In addition to PSBB, the government is conducting PCR, rapid test and contact tracking to identify people as infected, patient under surveillance (PDP), and person in monitoring (ODP). Other than that, the Minister of Health along with the Governors and Mayors keep increasing the number of lab and referral hospital networks devoted to COVID-19 across the archipelago.

Indonesia has currently left its former position as a country with the second biggest COVID-19 mortality rate. However, the government’s recent idea to loosen the PSBB does not sound promising for the future. 

As per 14 May, 16.006 cases have been reported, along with 3.518 been cured and more than 1.043 stated as dead. 

The mortality rate has raised concerns, especially regarding the numbers of health workers, medical workers, and specialists who died from COVID-19. 

Whilst the overburden of inpatient facility remains, the spokesperson of Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) said that the health institution failed to provide sufficient personal protective equipment for its workers.


A man sells his asset worth of 800.000 USD to help people cope with COVID-19.

Excluding the government’s abundant moments of political failure, people used ICT to strengthen solidarity. Numbers of foundation, public figures and social media darling have led some tireless campaigns and action to help people in need during the PSBB. 

Especially to arm them with necessary-though-pricey masks. After two months of PSBB, it is fascinating to see that this movement could finally knock the mask hoarders off, driving them to bring back the normal price.

This response has complemented the massive knowledge-sharing session and nearly total free video conferencing facility every day. Some universities open the access to their not-normally-online collection, and some IT companies have gained power by introducing their new video conferencing service. Now, every Indonesian could access overwhelmingly plentiful and valuable content online. Gladly for the students, they have earned the benefit from free ISP’s services.

ICT actually has become one focus of the COVID-19 mitigation program in Indonesia. Earlier before, the government had built an official website to combat hoax and tell people about COVID-19’s essential information. 

Furthermore, as the market of online applications has bloomed in recent years, companies have contributed greatly in PSBB implementation by providing free tele-medic services and restricting transportation services features.

On the other hand, there are some debacles regarding data-integrity as a basis of proper public policy. As the mobility control of listed PDP and ODP remains unclear, the distribution of social assistance became misdirected because of the lack of data update.

Therefore, it is not that the ICT has become an effective tool connected to the solid concept required on combating COVID-19 as was stated in prevailing regulation. At least, it has reached the outer sphere of enabling the society to run some new opportunity and generosity during the outbreak.


During the PSBB, the government has set classification of work restrictions to prompt some offices in total close and others allowed or required to keep open in either curtain hour or strict protocol. Despite the susceptibility of this classification, a new normal has been introduced as a blessing in disguise, some said.

Although it is not hard for some offices in the city to migrate the workers online, most of the workers in informal sectors are burdened with indolence to do so. Lets see the case of Tanah Abang market in Jakarta, which stops their operation from PSBB effectuation. Tanah Abang has run the economy for more than 25,000 stalls along with their multiply number of workers and families. 

They have streamed the money and supply for a great-scale of people involved beyond Jakarta. Unfortunately, the kind of Tanah Abang that has served as the backbone of the informal sector exists as million in Indonesia. The informal sector work is more of two third to all job happen to be exist in Indonesia.

As it is logical to compute the numbers of people infected by COVID-19, a painful poverty may not be avoided only by societal generosity. 

We urge the nation to find a compact mechanism to run a new way of doing business in this sector before it compels us to see more people have no rice at home.

Author BIO

Mira Fajri

Mira Fajri

Mira Fajri is a young Lawyer working for Indonesia Internet Domain Name Registry (PANDI .id Registry). She actively engage in legal research and ICT-related studies activity. She is Director of Law Studies Institute of KAMMI also Head of Law and Economy Research Division of Internet Development Institute (ID Institute). Mira has great interest in the field of Islamic teaching, legislation, digital economy, social modality and legal theories.

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