Indonesia begins its Eid al-Fitr travel ban as some try to skirt rules
On Thursday, Indonesia started enforcing a previously declared ban on domestic travel in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus during the Eid al-Fitr festivities, when millions of people typically travel to mark the end of the Islamic fasting month.
On Thursday, police officers were stationed in Jakarta’s capital city to search paperwork and deter visitors who did not have special permission from leaving the city. They were imposing a prohibition on air, ground, sea, and rail travel that was declared in April and was set to be in effect from May 6 to May 17.
For the holidays, millions of citizens in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation usually “mudik,” or travel home to see their relatives.
Senior health officials, however, have expressed alarm about the appearance of new and more virulent coronavirus mutations across Indonesia, including two cases this week of the B.1.617 strain, which was first detected in India late last year and is currently ravaging the region.
In Southeast Asia, Indonesia has seen the largest number of coronavirus cases and deaths.
Despite the dangers, several citizens attempted to circumvent the laws early on Thursday, with police reporting on Twitter that many people attempted to flee the capital city by camping out on the back of a vegetable truck.
“I would always want to return home because this has been a ritual, even though we haven’t gone home in two years,” said 44-year-old Basuki Riyanto, who was thinking about how to get to Central Java province on Thursday.
“If there is a closure, I would continue to move forward regardless of the circumstances.”
In Indonesia, there have been 1,691,658 recorded coronavirus cases and 46,349 COVID-19 deaths.
The country’s health minister announced earlier this week that the first two cases of the Indian strain had been found in Jakarta. Previously, 13 cases of the B.117 variant, which was first identified in the UK, were discovered in the world.
The threat of a COVID-19 outbreak is weighing on Indonesia’s economic outlook this year. Household demand, the largest portion of the country’s GDP, contracted in the first quarter of 2021.
Southeast Asia’s largest economy contracted 0.74 percent year on year in the January-March season, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of contraction, according to official data released on Wednesday.