We have seriously considered the option to ban the Eid al-Fitr homecoming.
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The government has mulled over the option to ban this year's Eid al-Fitr homecoming to thwart the spread of coronavirus.

"We have agreed that public safety is the main priority. Hence, we have given serious consideration to the option to ban the Eid al-Fitr homecoming," Jodi Mahardi, special advisor to the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, noted in a statement here on Tuesday.

The ministry held meetings pertaining to this matter with related ministries and institutions, including the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Transportation Ministry, Home Ministry, Religious Affairs Ministry, Health Ministry, Public Works and Housing Ministry, the military and police, he revealed.

Mahardi highlighted the three scenarios prepared by the government in connection with the Eid al-Fitr homecoming: to allow this homecoming, suspend the annual free homecoming program, and ban the homecoming.

"The three scenarios will be reported to the president," he added.

Earlier, on Monday (March 23), the meeting, led by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, discussed various options to tackle the potential spread of coronavirus across the country when thousands of people return to their hometowns to celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

"We have to consider all scenarios to ensure public safety," Pandjaitan stated.

The Home Affairs Ministry said it will issue a circular for candidates of the simultaneous regional elections that disallows them from conducting the free-homecoming program as part of their political campaign.

In the transportation sector, the Transportation Ministry has planned to prohibit the entry of vehicles from Greater Jakarta to Central and West Java.

The Directorate General of Air Transportation would ensure optimal services for logistics distribution and cut short the passenger quota by 50 percent.

However, the police will continue to conduct the Ketupat Operation to maintain public security and order during the long holidays for Eid al-Fitr, and the Indonesian Military will be deployed at some vital locations, including toll gates, to support the implementation of the policy to ban the Eid al-Fitr homecoming.

Any decision on the Eid al-Fitr homecoming will have to be intensively communicated to the public.

"Public safety is of the highest concern. Homecoming will increase the likelihood of a further spread (of coronavirus) across the country," BNPB Head Doni Monardo pointed out.
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Translator: Ade Irma Junida, Sri Haryati
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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