The Indonesian government has decided to ban the annual mass homecoming for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, to curb the spread of the coronavirus, President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday.
The move marked a reversal to the previous announcement that the government would allow people to embark on the mass exodus, provided that they self-isolate. “I would like to announce that mass travel will be banned entirely,” Joko said at a cabinet meeting.
“Therefore, I’m asking that details of the measure to be prepared,” he said.
Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is expected to start on May 23 or 24, depending on the sighting of the new moon.
The Indonesian Council of Ulema, the country’s semi-authority on Islamic affairs, has urged Muslims not to travel to their hometowns for Eid, saying to do so during a pandemic would be a sin.
In March, about 15 million Eid revellers travelled from the greater Jakarta region to their hometowns in the country.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Indonesia rose to 6,760 on Monday.
The death toll was at 590, making Indonesia the country with the highest number of fatalities in East Asia outside China.