Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Government has decided to ban crowds congregating to celebrate Christmas 2020 and New Year 2021 at public places to prevent a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.

The decision was taken at a virtual coordination meeting for COVID-19 handling in Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, and Bali here on Monday (Dec 14) led by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.

The minister ordered to apply stricter restrictions against COVID-19 from December 18, 2020, to January 8, 2021.

"The number of confirmed cases and mortality rates has continued to increase after the holidays in 20 provinces despite a declining trend earlier," he noted in a statement here on Tuesday.

A significant rise in confirmed cases was recorded after the holidays and joint leave at the end of October that necessitated the government to tighten restrictions.

The minister particularly highlighted the rise in cases in Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, South Sulawesi, North Sumatra, Bali, and South Kalimantan.

He urged Governor Anies Baswedan to call on 75 percent of the capital city's employees to work from home.

"I have also urged the governor to continue the policy of limiting operating hours to 19:00 and limit the number of people gathering at restaurants, malls, and entertainment venues," Pandjaitan, concurrently Deputy Chair of the Committee for COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery (KPC PEN), affirmed.

Religious, anniversary, or celebratory events that can attract crowds must be restricted or prohibited, he emphasized.

He reminded all governors participating in the meeting virtually to strictly implement the health protocols of wearing a face mask, maintaining a distance, and hand washing with soap.

He particularly urged Bali and other tourist resort islands to tighten health protocols in rest areas, hotels, and tourist attractions.

"We urge that tourists boarding a plane to Bali must take the PCR H-2 test before their flight to Bali and required to undergo the H-2 rapid antigen test before land travel to Bali," he stated.

Governor Baswedan confirmed that the capital prohibits Christmas and New Year’s celebrations that can attract crowds.

He was optimistic that the Greater Jakarta areas (Jabodetabek) would also apply similar policies. Related news: Government may bear 50% of COVID-19 vaccine cost: Minister
Related news: Eight thousand devout to attend Christmas Mass at Jakarta Cathedral

Translator: Ade Irma J, Fardah
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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