Indonesia’s Long Weekend to See Few Covid-19 Restrictions

Senior government officials are discouraging travel but airports and provincial borders will remain open.

Sunrise over the volcanic peaks of Mt Bromo, Batok, and Semeru. (Photo: Kevin Zhang/Unsplash)

After the Lebaran holiday in May was scrapped in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, travel-starved Indonesians are now looking forward to a five-day weekend starting on October 28. Two days of collective leave have been added on either side of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, which falls on Thursday the 29th.

In line with current regulations, all intercity train and plane passengers are required to show medical certificates proving they have tested negative for the virus through a rapid or PCR test. Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi has asked travelers in planes and trains keep their masks on, refrain from eating or drinking throughout their journey, and avoid talking as much as possible. Those taking to the road will face fewer restrictions, as private vehicles carrying families are considered as less of a health risk. However, Budi added that checkpoints would be set up at provincial borders, with random spot checks on buses to make sure passengers adhere to reduced capacity limits.

CNN Indonesia says Jakarta’s provincial-level police force will man 15 security posts on highways, arterial roads, and tourist sites during the long weekend, though it isn’t clear how they will monitor or enforce health protocols. The Indonesian central government is not implementing strict controls to limit the movement of people from Jakarta—the hardest-hit province in the country with more than 98,000 confirmed cases—as it did during Lebaran.

Instead, it has relied on regular announcements by top officials about the importance of following health protocols and staying home as much as possible. Earlier this week, Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian urged Jakarta residents without an essential reason for travel not to leave the capital, and asked them to avoid popular destinations such as Puncak and Bandung. The minister also suggested that all travelers should be tested beforehand, though his words carry no legal weight.

Despite the government’s repeated warnings, a large-scale exodus is still expected in the coming days. The Transportation Ministry predicts that the peak flow of travelers out from Jakarta will occur from Tuesday night (October 27) through Wednesday, while heavy traffic in reverse is expected from midnight on Sunday, November 1 well into Monday.

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