The Jakarta Post
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has said the government is open to adjusting the dates of the Idul Fitri public holiday in consideration of people who will not be able to return to their hometowns for the annual exodus, as the government is formulating regulations to limit movement.
Ramadan is expected to take place from April 23 to May 23 this year, followed by Idul Fitri on May 24 and 25. It has become customary for people, especially those living in big cities, to visit their hometowns and gather with family during the long holiday.
This year’s Idul Fitri was expected to see some 20 million people participate in the exodus, resulting in a massive stream of urbanites to rural areas. With the cases of COVID-19 showing no signs of slowing down, government officials and experts have expressed worry that the exodus might trigger an explosion of cases and deaths.
“Perhaps an alternative is to change the dates of the public holiday. This will be discussed,” he said in a televised conference during a limited Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Furthermore, he also proposed that tourist destinations owned by regional administrations be open to the public for free at a later date.
“I think if those scenarios were arranged, we could give a little [sense of] peace to the people,” the President said.
Jokowi also called on regional administrations to not come up with their own exodus policies. He urged for the policies to be well formulated in line with the central government.
“I want comprehensive scenarios,” he said.
“The President, ministers, governors, regents, mayors and village heads must have the same vision, the same strategy, same way of solving the problems we face today.”
The President declared on Tuesday a public health emergency and imposed large-scale social restrictions to stem the spread of the highly contagious disease.
In the meeting, Jokowi also urged regional administrations, especially neighborhood units, to help monitor the exodus during Ramadan, adding that people coming from Greater Jakarta -which has become an epicenter of COVID-19 cases- should be supervised and urged to carry out self-isolation.