The government of Indonesia has decided to allow mudik — or the practice of returning to one’s hometown — during the Idul Fitri holiday, despite the high risk of furthering the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
The decision was made by President Joko Widodo in a closed meeting on Thu (2 Apr).
“The government will not issue an official mudik ban,” said Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan during a virtual press briefing from the Presidential Palace in Bogor yesterday.
Mr Luhut, who is also the acting Transport Minister, explained that the decision was made to prevent the economy from stopping altogether, based on the government’s modelling, which he said demonstrated that the country’s hot weather and high humidity would slow the virus.
Despite the absence of an official ban, the government is persuading people to not go back to their hometown.
“So now, we request the community to be aware that if you go home, you will bring the disease [with you]. Almost certainly [you will] bring the disease. If you carry it to your hometown, someone can die and that might be your family,” Mr Luhut said.
Mr Joko said that those who return to their hometown will be instantly given the status as “people under observation” (ODP) in accordance with the World Health Organization’s health protocol.
“The people who go for mudik should do self-isolation for 14 days,” said presidential spokesman Fadjroel Rachman in a statement after the meeting.
Officials discussed during the meeting on Thu the possibility of moving the religious holiday to the end of the year and to provide facilities for the replacement holiday.
Around 19.5 million people across Indonesia took part in mudik last year. It is unclear how many people will be participating in the annual mudik this year.
The number of confirmed cases in Indonesia has increased to 1,790 with 170 fatalities. In Greater Jakarta itself, 958 confirmed cases and 96 deaths have been recorded to date.