The Jakarta Post
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo announced his decision to ban the Idul Fitri mudik (exodus) to curb the spread of COVID-19 ahead of Ramadan.
"Based on field research and a survey conducted by the Transportation Ministry, we found that 68 percent of people had decided to not participate in the annual exodus, while 24 percent still insisted on leaving and 7 percent had already left," Jokowi said in a teleconferenced limited Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
"It means we still have a very big percentage [of people who will participate in the mudik]," he continued. "So I want to announce that we will ban the mudik altogether."
He said the government would prepare the necessary measures to enforce the ban.
The decision is an about-face from the Jokowi administration's previous policy of merely advising the public not to participate in the mudik.
The government previously issued regulations prohibiting civil servants, military personnel and police officers from returning to their hometowns but stopped short of banning the practice altogether, citing economic considerations.
Annually, some 20 million people from Greater Jakarta, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia, travel to their hometowns to celebrate Idul Fitri.
The tradition, public health experts say, could lead to the further spread of COVID-19 on Java, an island of 141 million people, where many regions have far worse healthcare systems than Jakarta. (nal)