Mall staffers set to return as Indonesian restrictions eased

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

With Indonesia witnessing a decrease in the number of Covid-19 infections that have been fueled by the Delta variant, business and movement restrictions in both Java and Bali have been wound back.

On 9 August, it was announced that malls, which had been closed on the two populous islands for several months, would be permitted to open back up at 25% of their pre-Covid-19 capacities.

However, only fully vaccinated people will be allowed to enter the shopping centres, and this will be tracked through a digital health certificate app. This was confirmed by the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, in a televised press conference.

This decision allows many mall employees who had previously been been laid off or furloughed to make a comeback into the retail industry.

However, there are still some challenges facing those workers. In particular, retailers are likely to reduce wages as they look to cut back on costs throughout their operations. According to local media, malls across Indonesia suffered a loss of IDR 5 trillion or around USD 347.5 billion, due to the restrictions imposed on retailers.

For many also, the furlough may end up being a permanent status. With the reduced capacities, not all previous staff will be needed on shop floors. In addition, with many e-commerce platforms available in the country, many retail businesses are moving online and require only a few employees to operate their online transactions.

The new freedoms come just a few weeks after a more pessimistic outlook hinted that that stores could remain fully closed until the end of the year or longer.

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