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A government official in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) has denied that a “party” took place last week after photos and videos widely circulating showed hundreds attending an event in the province and prompting allegations of health protocol violations. 

A video from the event, which initially appeared on Twitter, showed hundreds of people gathered while listening to a live musical performance. The festivities took place right by the sea, reportedly in Semau Island. 

The tweet above pointed out how the Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM) protocol is still in place, while mentioning the official handles of President Joko Widodo, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), and the Health Ministry.  

According to reports, some of NTT’s top officials were in attendance, including Governor Viktor Laiskodat as well as all of the province’s regional heads, who are now heavily criticized online. 

“This country has no lack of bad examples from its elites throughout the COVID-19 pandemic handling… And then they will blame citizens who disobey health protocols,” one user wrote. 

“It’s been almost two years since NTT students began studying at home under concerning conditions. Businesspeople have had to obey PPKM rules. Then the governor and regents of NTT partied on the beach,” another user tweeted. 

NTT Vice Governor Josef Nae Soi said the event took place last Friday and was held to inaugurate the Regional Finance Access Acceleration Team (TPAKD). 

“There was no party,” Josef was quoted as saying, while adding that he had returned to Kupang at 4:30pm, presumably before all the “fun” began. 

As the reports continue to spread across the country, a religious figure in the province, Emi Sahertian, pointed out how these officials are “setting a bad example.” 

“Emergency regulations [exist] to prevent transmission and save many lives, if this is violated then it should be classified as a criminal act,” Emi said. 

Last night, NTT Police said they are gathering information about the viral footage.

Read more news and updates from eastern Indonesia here

This article, NTT officials chided for alleged beach ‘party’ amid COVID-19 restrictions, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.

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