Lebaran, or the Eid holiday, is fast approaching, and Indonesians wishing to partake in the annual homecoming tradition known as mudik may have to be boosted before they travel.
That’s according to Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, who said the government is considering making COVID-19 booster shots mandatory for hassle-free mudik.
“In addition to completing the two [vaccines] shots, the booster shot may also be required,” Ma’ruf said yesterday.
‘Boosted’ mudik travelers won’t have to present negative COVID-19 test results, the former Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman said.
It is likely that, for this year’s mudik, the COVID-19 testing requirement will apply to those who have not been boosted or not vaccinated at all. Currently, fully vaccinated domestic travelers (either two doses or a booster) are exempt from testing requirements prior to departure. Ma’ruf’s statement may signal a slight tightening in travel regulations specifically for mudik.
Last year, Indonesia tightened travel rules ahead of and during mudik. However, millions reportedly still traveled to their hometowns for the Islamic holiday. That, coupled with the emergence of the Delta variant, led to the deadliest COVID-19 wave Indonesia has seen in mid-2021.
But with the number of cases continuing to fall nationwide after the Omicron wave, we might witness the most “business-as-usual” mudik since the pandemic began.
“We assume [the pandemic] is under control. Everything is open and there is no more quarantine, so places of worship will also open with loosened restrictions,” Ma’ruf said.
Some 16 million people, or 6 percent of Indonesia’s population of 270 million, have received their booster shots. Around 56 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.
Eid is expected to fall on May 2-3 this year.