The COVID-19 Task Force has issued a circular introducing tightened domestic travel regulations ahead of and after the mudik homecoming exodus ban.
In the circular, which Coconuts received this morning, the task force is tightening COVID-19 screening regulations at ports and on the road from today until the start of the mudik ban on May 6, as well as for seven days after the ban ends on May 17.
The task force said the tightening of regulations was a response to those intending to beat the mudik ban by traveling with minimal restrictions before May 6. The National Police previously did not help matters when it said that it would not sanction anyone who go on mudik before the ban period, and even said that it would help ease their travels.
Under the new regulations, air travelers are now required to present a negative PCR/antigen test result obtained 24 hours before departure, shortened from three days previously, or a negative GeNose breathalyzer test taken at the airport where available. The same applies to most sea and rail travel.
Inter-provincial drivers are now advised to obtain a negative PCR/antigen test result in case of random COVID-19 screenings throughout major toll roads.
During the mudik ban period, police will set up roadblocks on major toll roads to turn back mudik travelers, while suspensions to travel by air, rail, and sea will also come into effect.
Some exceptions, such as emergency and official travel, apply.
Before the pandemic, the annual homecoming exodus tradition usually saw around 30 million Indonesians visiting their hometowns annually.
This will be the second year for the mudik ban to take place after the policy was first introduced last year to reduce potential risks of COVID-19 transmission. Despite the ban, millions still left for their hometowns in 2020, especially before the regulation came into force.
Indonesia recorded hundreds of daily new cases prior to Eid holiday last year, but the daily count shot beyond the four-digit mark a couple of weeks after Eid, which was partly attributed to mudik.
Correction: The previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the mudik ban had been extended from April 22 until May 24, whereas in fact the COVID-19 Task Force has merely tightened domestic travel regulations for April 22-May 5 and May 17-24. We apologize for the error.