Indonesian President Joko Widodo inaugurated a mass vaccination campaign in Bali on Tuesday amid hopes that the resort island could reopen to foreign visitors soon.
Bali has designated three popular tourist districts – Ubud, Gianyar and Nusa Dua – as COVID-19 green zones in the first step toward reopening the island to the outside world.
“We hope that these three green zones can be fully opened to tourists so that they will feel comfortable about staying in Bali.
“We hope that this will be the start of the revival of Bali’s tourism sector,’’ Joko said.
Bali hoped to vaccinate 150,000 people working in the tourism sector in the first phase of the inoculation campaign, Bali Governor Wayan Koster said.
Bali would reopen to domestic visitors in July, but plans to allow foreign tourists back in September were shelved following a spike in coronavirus cases.
No new date has been set for reopening to foreign visitors, but Koster said he hoped it could be as early as August.
Indonesia has so far vaccinated nearly 4.1 million people, using the vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech.
The country’s food and drug agency said that it had decided to delay using the vaccine developed by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca amid concerns in Europe that it may be linked to blood clots.
Indonesia plans to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating 185 million of its 270 million residents within 15 months.
The world’s fourth most populous country has reported more than 1.4 million COVID-19 cases and 38,573 deaths.