Bali has seen an explosion of coronavirus cases and a disturbing spike in its death rate since the island hotspot was opened to tourists.
The popular Indonesian tourist island began welcoming domestic tourists back on July 31 after its tourism industry was smashed by the pandemic.
And while authorities have put restrictions in place to slow the spread of the deadly disease, the number of cases has continued to skyrocket.
Bali now has the fastest-rising death rates from coronavirus in Indonesia.
Bali has seen an explosion of coronavirus cases and a disturbing spike in its death rate since the island hotspot was opened to tourists (Pictured: A couple hug on a beach in Bali)
Kuta near Denpasar, Bali, was empty in May after the pandemic hit, but tourists have since flooded back to the tourist hotspot
A surfer walks along Canggu beach in Bali on September 1. An expert has warned the island may need to shut its borders again to domestic tourism
Estimates show figures have increased by 500 per cent since the island reopened, with about 241 COVID-19 related deaths recorded.
Local epidemiologist Dr I Gusti Ngurah Kade Mahardika said reopening the island to tourists was to blame.
‘Bali’s reopening has caused a public euphoria for local residents. They think Bali is open now so they’re free to do anything and they flock to tourist destinations,’ he told ABC.
Each day about 4,000 tourists flood to the island, which has been fuelling the crisis, he said.
He said the island needed to be closed off again even to the country’s other provinces to stop the spread of the virus.
‘The ideal condition to suppress the number of COVID-19 cases would be under lockdown,’ virologist I Gusti Ngurah Mahardika told Coconuts.
Local epidemiologist Dr I Gusti Ngurah Kade Mahardika said reopening the island to tourists was to blame (Pictured: A street food vendor and customers wear face masks in Bali, Indonesia)
Balinese Hindu pilgrims held a prayers to celebrate Galungan holiday on September 18 amid Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak
‘[That means] close Bali temporarily, limit people’s movement – permitting leaving the house only for very important purposes, such as looking for food, medicine, and the likes.’
Officials in Bali have defended the decision to re-open the province’s border to domestic tourists from July 31.
But deaths in the past six weeks have since doubled, with 151 people on the island having now lost their lives to the virus.
Indonesia as a whole has recorded more than 197,000 COVID-19 cases and 8,000 deaths.
A woman wears a protective face mask at a shopping mall in Bali. Plans to reopen the island to foreign tourists have been shelved to at least the end of the year
Alarming photos last week emerged showing soldiers walking down the streets of Denpasar handing out fines of 100,000 rupiah ($9.30 AUD) to anyone without a face covering.
Face masks have been mandatory in public across Indonesia since early April.
Authorities previously came up with a range of punishments for those refusing to comply including performing push-ups and buying one kilogram of rice to go towards Bali locals severely affected by the pandemic.
Some police officers even made offenders dance.
Residents exercising with face masks in Denpasar in Bali this week. Indonesia has recorded more than 197,000 COVID-19 cases and 8,000 deaths
The popular Indonesian tourist island began welcoming domestic tourists back on July 31 after its tourism industry was smashed by the pandemic (Pictured: Healthcare workers take blood sample from citizen)
Bali was supposed to welcome back international tourists from September 4 but has since announced this has been pushed back until the end of the year.
‘The Indonesian government couldn’t reopen its doors to foreign travellers until the end of 2020 as we remain a red zone,’ Mr Koster said in a statement last month.
‘The situation is not conducive to allowing foreign tourists to come to Indonesia, including to Bali.
‘Bali cannot fail because it could adversely impact the image of Indonesia, including Bali, in the eyes of the world, which could prove counter-productive to the recovery of travel.’
The military are now a common sight on the streets of Bali. Locals are fined 100,000 rupiah if they head outside without a face mask
A shop keeper waits for customers at a market in Gianyar, Bali on August 20. Face masks are mandatory in public across Indonesia