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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: Govt forgoes ‘mudik’ ban to prevent economic collapse, Luhut says

  • Alya Nurbaiti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, April 3, 2020   /   06:30 am
COVID-19: Govt forgoes ‘mudik’ ban to prevent economic collapse, Luhut says Children wait as their bus prepares to take them home for mudik in May 2018. (JP/P.J. Leo)

Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who is also acting transportation minister, said that the government decided to allow an Idul Fitri mudik (exodus) during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite also appealing to the public not to do it, for economic reasons.

“Our main consideration is to prevent the economy from stopping altogether. After we calculated everything, [having no lockdown] is our best option among a number of flawed options,” Luhut said during a virtual press briefing from the Presidential Palace on Thursday. “Based on these considerations, we advised the President […] and he agreed that [if we ban mudik] it would affect low-income households the most.”

He added that the decision was also taken based on the government’s modeling, which he said showed that the country’s hot weather and high humidity would slow the virus.

“Even if we choose to prohibit people from mudik, they’d do it anyway. Therefore we decided to tell them instead that mudik will bring the disease to their families so it’s better not to do it,” he added.

Luhut said the people who choose not to mudik would be given an as yet undisclosed amount of compensation.

Earlier on Thursday, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said there would be no official ban on mudik, asking local authorities to monitor potential virus carriers instead.

The decision was made despite calls from public health experts and regional heads for the government to impose a lockdown for “red zone” areas, such as Jakarta, to prevent the disease from spreading farther across the island of Java.

According to the central government’s official count, there were 1,790 confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide as of Thursday, 897 of which were in Jakarta.