Jakarta (ANTARA) - Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR) Azis Syamsuddin extended Idul Fitri greetings on Sunday though desisted from convening an open house event in the wake of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a brief message to ANTARA received in Jakarta on Sunday, Syamsuddin spoke of his preference to stay at home and not receive guests on the day Indonesian Muslims celebrated the Idul Fitri festivities that mark the end of Ramadhan.

In the meantime, House Speaker Puan Maharani extended Idul Fitri greetings through her official Instagram account @puanmaharani.

In the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, she urged all sections of the Indonesian society to work together and practice the spirit of "gotong royong," or mutual cooperation, as well as demonstrate social solidarity and empathy.

"May the victory we clinch during Ramadhan strengthen our social solidarity and care for other people," Maharani affirmed.

Indra Iskandar, the House’s secretary general, notified journalists on Saturday that the open house events were not held for this year's Idul Fitri celebrations owing to the government’s imposition of large-scale social restrictions to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.

The State Palace authority also confirmed that President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and First Lady Iriana did not hold an open house at the State Palace on May 25 to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In this place, President Jokowi has appealed to the people at large to uphold the spirit of "silaturrahim," or Islamic brotherhood, during the Idul Fitri festivities virtually through the use of various digital media platforms.

"The 'silaturrahim' tradition with relatives and friends must continue to be preserved, though they cannot meet physically. It can still be done virtually," Presidential Secretariat Deputy Head of Protocol, Press, and Media Bey Triadi Machmudin had noted earlier.

President Jokowi also urged all ministers and cabinet members to not convene the open house events.

During his first presidential term, President Jokowi routinely held the open house event in connection with the Idul Fitri festivities. During last year's Idul Fitri celebrations, he held the open house event at the State Palace, while in 2018, he held it at the Bogor Presidential Palace.

In connection with the government's endeavors to slow down the spread of COVID-19, the people, at large, are suggested to stay away from hometowns and forego physical contact with parents, relatives, and friends during the Idul Fitri festivities.

Physical distancing is no longer a barrier to maintain close relations in this digital era, and the spirit of "silaturrahim" can nonetheless be preserved by contacting friends and families over phone, WhatsApp, and teleconferencing platforms, such as Zoom.

With people opting to stay at home and not joining the annual exodus prior to and during the Idul Fitri holiday season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the government's endeavors to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases have gotten a boost.

The government alone cannot contain the spread of COVID-19. Flattening the curve necessitates participation from the people, at large, and upholding the spirit of "gotong royong".

If most Indonesians uphold the spirit of "gotong royong" and maintain strict discipline in the fight against coronavirus, Indonesia's situation in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic may likely improve in June and July this year.

"Insya Allah (with God's grace), in June and July, all things will get better than now," the government's spokesperson for COVID-19 task force, Achmad Yurianto, remarked during a virtual press conference in Jakarta on May 4, 2020.

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Translator: Abdu F, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Sri Haryati
Copyright © ANTARA 2020