After a period of more than 4 month at the highest alert level (4) for the volcano, the level could finally be downgraded on the 10th of February. The exclusion zone around the crater was reduced from 6 to 4 kilometers. Since this region is inhabited anyway, now, even the last 20'000 refugees can return to their villages.
The reason to take this decision was the sum of several facts: the seismic activity has declined substantially, the concentration of volcanic gases has diminished and the deformation of the mountain, which had been inflated during the last months due to the magma inside, is stable or even decreasing. Although the authorities still call for vigilance, these signs give reasonable cause for hope that the volcano will go back to sleep without causing any more damage.
The damage which has already been inflicted by the volcano since the month of September 2017 is for many Balinese considerable, although there has not been a major eruption. Especially people who live in the closer vicinity around the crater have lost a lot: They didn't have any or had less income, they have crop shortfall because they couldn't till their fields and they had financial losses due to the forced selling of their livestock. Some refugees are now, that they are "allowed" to return to their homes, faced with ruin. Possibly, they may even lose the support of the government and the NGOs which had cared for them in the camps.
Even here in the Amed region, things don't look too bright. Several hotels, service companies and restaurants are still closed. Many people are unemployed or on part time. If the numbers of visitors recover until the next high season, the situation might stabilise in the summer months of July / August. And in 2019, we hopefully can try to talk about economic growth. If the volcano doesn't get a hiccup again.