Bali has copped a severe, recent wave of COVID, matched with equally stringent lockdown measures enforced by the Indonesian government. Indonesia hasn’t been in a great way since COVID began, with over 69000 reported deaths and close to three million reported cases ravaging the country. The loss of tourist dollars and support has been arguably more impactful than the rampant spread of the virus. No island in the country is worse off than the tiny island of Bali, where the population is heavily reliant on the tourist economy. With the limitations on international travel, the Balinese people are in dire straits, with many locals jobless and desperately looking for work.
Most Indonesians are compliant with lockdown measures and want to see this thing put behind them. They genuinely want to get the island back on its feet, but when you have a solid 8-foot, clean swell hitting the Bukit, it’s hard to ignore, especially when it is less than half as crowded as it would be in pre-COVID times. Slightly less crowded line-ups offer small consolation to the lack of tourism but these waves come at a risk.
The new risk surfers are facing in Bali is fines, detention, and even deportations. The photographer behind the images you see here, David Biner, described the lockdowns, which came into place at the start of the month, as “militaristic and downright nuts”. The government has cracked down on regulations, allowing only essential travel within your respective zone. Roadblocks enforce this on many of the major roads throughout the Balinese regencies, including Sunset road in Kuta. According to David, there is a rumour they are even “giving roadside vaccinations at these checkpoints”. Unfortunately, surfing doesn’t fall under the essential travel umbrella and authorities have been staunch in enforcing this, moving along all of those watching on the cliffs and catching surfers before they paddle out. Indonesian authorities have even taken it as far as deporting foreigners doing the wrong thing and detaining locals who refuse to wear masks or those that breach the lockdown order. Even with the severe restrictions, the shots above stand as proof that surfers will go to great lengths to score waves.
See more of Dave Biner’s Indo images here