Do Social Distancing Policies Impact the People’s Economy?

August 7, 2020 by : BHP UMY

Ingenida Hadning
Lecturer at the Pharmacy Study Program, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta

The Severe Acute Sespiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection which is shortened to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread widely almost all over the world. On 12 March 2020, WHO declared a COVID-19 pandemic. Based on WHO data, as of August 2, 2020, there are 17,660,523 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a death rate of 3.9%. Data on confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indonesia as of 2 August 2020 reported 111,455 infected patients with a death rate of 4.7%.

Human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 is the main source of transmission, so the virus spreads more aggressively. The transmission of COVID-19 occurs through droplets that are expelled when coughing or speaking, and the virus will enter the body through mucous membranes such as the mouth, eyes and nose. After the virus enters the body and begins to infect especially the cells of the airway, it will then cause clinical manifestations. Clinical manifestations in infected people have a wide spectrum, ranging from asymptomatic, mild symptoms, ARDS, to septic shock. The most fatal consequence of SARS-CoV-2 infection is death.

COVID-19 is considered to be twice as contagious as seasonal flu, and symptoms have a long incubation period before appearing. In addition, people who feel healthy can “carry” this virus without them knowing it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Other (CDC) states that everyone has a 60% -80% chance of contracting COVID-19 and this virus has the potential to kill millions of people.

One of the efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing. Social distancing refers to the adoption of behavior by individuals in a community that reduces the risk of the individual becoming infected by limiting contact with other people or reducing the risk of transmission during contact with anything. It can be interpreted that social distancing is an act of limiting activities outside the home by working from home or studying from home which essentially reduces direct human interaction.

Social Distancing has positive and negative impacts. The positive impact of social distancing is that the government can reduce the number of people infected with COVID-19 because it reduces activities outside the home which in turn reduces the risk of transmission. However, The Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia said that the rapid and dynamic changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the economy in Indonesia, as it can cause a recession or a decrease in economic growth in Indonesia.

There are still very few studies that analyze the impact of social distancing on the people’s economy. To that end, a research team from the Pharmacy Study Program, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta led by apt. Ingenida Hadning, M.Sc. and consisting of N. Qurrotu ‘Ainii, Aisya Putri Kandayani, Amira Nur Alifa Fauzi and Anis Khoirul Salsabila, is interested in conducting a study to evaluate the impact of social distancing as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the community’s economy. Is it true that people’s income has decreased during the pandemic? Is it true that the people’s economy was severely disrupted by the pandemic?

This study involved 843 respondents from 34 provinces in Indonesia. Respondents are predominantly from Central Java, D.I. Yogyakarta, and East Java. Most of the respondents are females of 17-45 years old. We also divided the community into several categories, namely students, health workers, employees, and merchants.

During the social distancing period, the community experienced a decrease in monthly income by 46.2%, but monthly expenses also decreased by 3.0%. The main expenditure during social distancing is the purchase of food ingredients/processed food, data packages, electricity and health products. In general, people find it difficult to meet the needs of data packages, payments of installments/credits, and employee salaries.

The study also found some interesting points. Among the health workers, their income decreased significantly by 59.6%, but expenditure increased by 23.6%. Expenditures have increased significantly on the purchase of health products. It is suspected that health workers have experienced a decrease in income because they were not able to open normal practices during the pandemic, but they required large expenditures to purchase the necessities for personal protection and sanitation.

For the merchants, their income decreased by 22.5% but expenditures have decreased by 12.8%. The merchants struggle in paying installments/credits because they usually take loans in banks or owe money to suppliers. In addition, they also have problems paying their employees.

Employees, both private and civil servants, experienced the smallest decrease in income, because employees still received salaries during the pandemic. This is in line with the majority of employees who stated that they did not experience difficulties in fulfilling their daily needs.

The members of society most affected this pandemic are students who are affected by many limitations to undergo distance learning. Students stated that their income decreased by 54.4% because they did not get pocket money from their parents because of the school from home program. However, students also stated that they experienced a decrease in expenditures by 44.5% because they minimized activities outside the home such as snacks or traveling. To carry out long-distance learning, the student’s biggest expenditure is data packages. However, most students stated that it was difficult to purchase data packages due to their reduced income.

Based on this research, it can be concluded that social distancing policies have an impact on the people’s economy. This research is expected to be of benefit to various parties as well as material for the formulation of social distancing policies in the future.