Hundreds of foreign citizens are stranded on the three Gili islands, North Lombok. They haven’t been able to return home since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Indonesia in March.
“These are tourists who have not been picked up by their home countries, ” said Head of the North Lombok Culture and Tourism Office Vidi Eka Kusuma.
The foreigners, said Vidi, came as tourists, workers, and business owners. Although Gili is quiet, their lives there are guaranteed. “They get benefits from their countries,” he explained. He guaranteed that the foreigners are not neglected. Some restaurants and hotels are now open and serving those still in Gili.
The foreigners have been forced to stay put, so they are allowed to stay. “The abandoned ones have been returned yesterday – they’re busking Russians,” he said.
The three islands are yet to recover from the hit to tourism due to coronavirus. Although the tourist destination is now slowly opening, the government is still being very careful. “We will open gradually for employees first, even if there are foreign guests who have already been there,” he explained.
The local government of North Lombok Regency is still continuing to optimise all the facilities needed to convince tourists the islands are safe, advised Vidi, including cleanliness and health and safety certificates for all businesses there. “We are not yet open to foreign tourists, including fast boats from Bali,” he said.
Separately, the Head of Class I Mataram Immigration Office Syahrifullah explained that foreigners who have expired residence permit do not need to report again to the immigration office. During the pandemic, their visas will be automatically renewed. “Until new updates are announced by the Director-General of Immigration, this visa permit extension is done automatically, “he said.
At the beginning of the pandemic, foreigners had been asked to come report and extend their visas. With the issuance of Permenkumham Number 11 of 2020 concerning the prohibition of temporary foreigners entering Indonesia, their visas are automatically renewed.
Foreigners who arrived after 5 February and cannot return to their countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic do not need to apply for a visa extension to the Immigration Office.
Source: Lombok Post