The airport in Indonesia’s resort island of Bali held a simulation exercise on Saturday to make sure procedures were in place to welcome back international tourists who have been mostly shut out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The exercise follows the government’s decision to reopen the island for international travellers, starting Oct. 14.
Bali’s airport officials gave a tour to media showing protocols in place to welcome the first international flights as hundreds of airport staff played the role of foreign visitors arriving for a holiday.
Staff on duty ensured the “tourists” were keeping a distance from each other, and they checked documents and ushered them into rooms for COVID-19 tests before going to where they would be in quarantine for eight days.
Some Bali residents are eager to reopen, as tourism is the main income for the island.
Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, exited its first recession in over two decades in the second quarter, although a COVID-19 resurgence and ensuing social restrictions likely weighed on the recovery momentum.
Indonesia has been among the countries worst hit by COVID-19 in Asia, officially recording more than four million cases and 142,000 deaths — although public health experts believe the true toll is far higher.
However, daily cases have plummeted from more than 56,000 at the peak of the second wave in mid-July this year to 1,100 cases on Oct. 3.
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What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday morning, more than 237.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.8 million.
In Asia, Tokyo’s government said on Saturday that new daily infections of COVID-19 in the Japanese capital declined to 82, the lowest since Oct. 19 last year.
Cases have been on the decline since peaking at more than 5,000 a day in August in a wave driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. Tokyo and much of Japan last week exited a state of emergency that had lasted for almost six months.
In Europe, officials in Italy are allowing cinemas to reopen at full capacity on Monday. Nightclubs and dance halls will be able to open at 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent in the open air.
In Russia, health officials reported 968 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday, its highest single-day death toll since the start of the pandemic. There were 29,362 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours, the government coronavirus task force said.
In the Americas, New York Comic Con is expected to draw about 140,000 fans this weekend to the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. The convention opened Thursday and runs until Sunday.
Last year’s event was held in a virtual format due to the pandemic. Attendees this year who are 12 years and older must be vaccinated. Those under that age must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.