The Transportation Ministry today said it will not ban the annual homecoming exodus tradition known locally as mudik this year despite the ongoing pandemic.
Mudik, which coincides with the Eid al-Fitr holiday, sees around 30 million Indonesians visiting their hometowns annually before the pandemic. This year’s Eid holiday is expected to fall on May 13 and 14, with a collective leave day scheduled for May 12.
“In principle, the Transportation Ministry is not banning [mudik]. We will coordinate with the COVID-19 Task Force about the mechanisms of the upcoming mudik. There will be a tightening [of requirements] and tracing for those who are going on mudik,” Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said today.
Even without the ban, Budi said the ministry expects a significant reduction in the number of travelers compared to 2019. The ministry is projecting a 41 percent reduction in public transportation users during this year’s mudik, which translates to 11.89 million people, and for the number of cars on inter-province toll roads to dwindle by 13 percent to 2.15 million vehicles.
After some initial reluctance, President Joko Widodo last year banned mudik for the Eid holiday in May with Indonesia two months into officially reporting its first COVID-19 cases. Even so, millions still left for their hometowns, especially before the ban came in effect.
Before last year’s Eid holiday, Indonesia recorded hundreds of daily new cases. The daily count shot beyond the 1,000 cases mark a couple of weeks after Eid, which was partly attributed to mudik.
The government has repeatedly reduced the number of public holidays to discourage people from traveling throughout the pandemic. Nonetheless, Indonesia has regularly recorded huge case spikes following major holidays, with the highest spikes in particular of more than 10,000 cases per day coming after the Christmas and New Year holidays.