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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: ‘Mudik’ begins in Java while government mulls over travel ban

  • Suherdjoko

    The Jakarta Post

Semarang   /   Thu, March 26, 2020   /   10:17 am
COVID-19: ‘Mudik’ begins in Java while government mulls over travel ban Vehicles pass the Karawang Barat toll road in West Java on June 9, 2019, as people return home for Idul Fitri celebrations. (Antara/Rivan Awal Lingga)

Though the government has yet to decide whether to ban this year’s Idul Fitri mudik (exodus), many Jakarta workers have reportedly returned to their hometowns across Java despite warnings against traveling and public gatherings.

Some consider it an opportunity to mudik earlier as business has slowed down or their offices have closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak — even though Idul Fitri is not expected to fall until late May.

Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo said he had obtained reports from regents and mayors saying the initial homecoming flow from Jakarta had recently entered the province.

“In Jepara, 44 buses arrived from Jakarta carrying homecomers. It indeed happening early maybe because the offices and companies where they worked had reduced their working hours or even stopped operating,” Ganjar said.

While the homecomers’ health has yet to be confirmed, Ganjar hoped they did not cause problems for residents, including students, who had been advised to stay at home.

Read also: Forget 'mudik' this year, govt tells people as Idul Fitri moves closer

Ganjar appealed to residents who were currently working in the hardest-hit Jakarta not to go home just yet.

“Meanwhile, those in Central Java, don’t go see your relatives in Jakarta,” he said. “If it is necessary, there should be a record of each traveler’s health at the border into Central Java.”

West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said the number of people under monitoring for COVID-19 had jumped dramatically because many residents who worked in Jakarta had chosen to return home during the crisis.

The number of people in monitoring for COVID-19 in Sumedang surged to 1,807, the majority of whom are workers who had just returned from Jakarta. The regency only had one positive case announced on Sunday.

“The outbreak is centered in Jakarta. If you go home before the rapid test is carried out, you could be put under monitoring coming from a highly exposed area,” Ridwan told on Tuesday.

Sumedang Regent Dony Ahmad Munir said he had imposed two-week “local isolation” that prevailed in the six districts where the number of people under monitoring significantly increased.

The West Sumatra administration has officially issued a circular calling on all residents living outside of the province not to return home. The circular was signed by West Sumatra Regional Development and Cooperation Bureau head Luhur Budianda on Monday.

“We have issued a letter of appeal to temporarily delay plans to return home,” Luhur said, adding that the appeal was also addressed to all heads of Minang community organizations outside of West Sumatra.

The Transportation Ministry is currently mulling over a ban of this year’s Idul Fitri mudik and has yet to reach a final decision. The ministry’s spokesperson, Adita Irawati, said there might be some “uncommon policy”.

Read also: Scientists call for lockdown to contain COVID-19 ahead of Ramadan, 'mudik'

Both the Jakarta Transportation Agency and the Transportation Ministry’s Land Transportation Directorate General have canceled their annual free Idul Fitri mudik programs this year, which normally receives thousands of participants.

“It has been decided that the program will be canceled this year. Originally, we planned to hold this free mudik program with state-owned enterprises and other private companies,” said the ministry’s land transportation director general, Budi Setiyadi.

Such a measure was taken on the ground of the extended emergency disaster status for COVID-19 declared by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), which would last 91 days starting from Feb. 29 to May 29, he added. (syk)