Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Christmas and New Year holidays are only days away. During the year-end holiday period, many people may take a vacation overseas or within the country, or visit families in their hometowns.

Although the traffic flow during the Christmas and New Year holidays is usually not as heavy as during the Eid al-Fitr season, the number of travelers — whether using air, land, or water transportation — tends to be higher compared to normal days.

Therefore, the government has advised travelers to plan and prepare for their trip beforehand to anticipate the peak transportation flow, both during the exodus and return period.

Travelers have been advised to prepare themselves to avoid long traffic jams, sold-out tickets, and a surge in passengers using public transportation modes.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transportation has released the results of an online survey on people's movement during the Christmas 2023 and New Year 2024 holidays.

The survey predicts that 107.63 million people or 39.83 percent of the total Indonesian population will travel during the upcoming holidays.

During the same period of the previous year, the number of travelers was recorded at 44.17 million. Thus, this year, there will be an increase of 143.65 percent in the number of travelers.

According to the survey, 45.29 percent of the travelers will head to tourist destinations, 30.15 percent will visit their hometowns, and 18.98 percent will celebrate Christmas and New Year in their hometowns.

The mode of transportation will be dominated by private vehicles, with car travelers accounting for 35.57 percent or 39.97 million of the total travelers, and motorcycle travelers 17.92 percent or 20.14 million.

Meanwhile, transit points that are expected to be crowded with travelers include Senen, Gambir, and Bandung train stations, as well as Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Tangerang and Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali.

Given the potential number of travelers expected to flock to tourist sites and private vehicles on the road, it will be necessary to prepare anticipatory steps to regulate traffic at crucial points.

The Ministry of Transportation is coordinating intensively with local governments, the police, toll road managers, the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG), the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), and the Ministry of Health in this regard.

COVID-19 alert

During holiday travel this year, there is another issue that the government and the public will need to pay attention to: the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in several Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

According to the Health Ministry, the number of active cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Indonesia reached 6,223 as of Tuesday (December 12, 2023), an increase of 0.1 percent over the previous week.

Data from the ministry's webpage showed that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country reached 6,815,576 as of Tuesday, an increase of 298 over the previous week.

Of the total number of patients, at least 6,647,428 were declared recovered, while 161,926, or the equivalent of 2.4 percent, succumbed to the disease.

The latest cases were dominated by the Omicron XBB 1.5 sub-variant, which was responsible for the COVID-19 wave in Europe and the United States. The EG.2 and EG.5 subvariants were also detected in some patients.

However, the number of infections was still lower compared to during the pandemic period, when it reached 50 thousand–400 thousand per week.

In view of recent cases, the government has asked the public to immediately complete COVID-19 vaccination and has provided 4.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to prevent an infection surge ahead of Christmas and New Year.

The government is hoping that vaccination would improve travelers' immunity and prevent them from transmitting the disease to others.

The ministry has also issued a circular letter on Precautions against the Spike in COVID-19 for International Travelers, especially those at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to interactions with people from other countries.

Further, it has issued five guidelines for COVID-19 prevention that can be applied by the community ahead of the holidays.

First, people who experience cough or flu must immediately take a COVID-19 test. If the result is positive, they must conduct self-isolation and access telemedicine after getting a notification from the ministry.

Second, people must wear masks when sick or while visiting crowded or public places. Third, they must wash their hands using soap with running water. Fourth, they must complete COVID-19 vaccination up to the second booster. Fifth, they must postpone travel to regions reporting spikes in COVID-19 cases.

It is expected that by studying the Transportation Ministry's survey, efforts can be made to ensure traffic jams and vehicle density are not so severe, and compliance with the health protocols will prevent COVID-19 cases in the country from blowing up.

So far, no requirements have been implemented to control travel or people's movement during the Christmas and New Year holidays despite the increase in COVID-19 cases.

However, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy has reactivated risk mitigation efforts in the tourism sector.

In addition, it has appealed to tourism stakeholders to encourage visitors who are sick to wear masks both indoors and outdoors.

Related news: Air travelers should plan trips well in advance: Ministry
Related news: Minister asks Bali to prepare for increase in travelers

Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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