President Joko Widodo may shorten end-of-year break: Minister

President Joko Widodo during a cabinet meeting on July 14, 2020. Photo: Instagram/@jokowi
President Joko Widodo during a cabinet meeting on July 14, 2020. Photo: Instagram/@jokowi

President Joko Widodo may shorten the end-of-year-break in Indonesia, a minister said today, as it appears the government is becoming increasingly concerned about Indonesians seeing out 2020 with health protocol violations.

The president held a cabinet meeting this morning, discussing a plan previously suggested by the National COVID-19 Task Force to shorten or altogether cancel the government-mandated collective leave days from Christmas to New Year’s Day.

“In regards to the holiday, the collective leave days at the end of the year, the president has instructed that it be shortened,” Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy said at a virtual press conference today.

Muhadjir noted the decision is pending an imminent meeting between the ministry and agencies related to the matter. The minister did not say how much the break will likely be shortened by.

The government doesn’t ordinarily mandate a public holiday between Christmas and New Year holidays. However, this year, to make up for canceling Eid al-Fitr collective leave days amid fresh outbreak concerns in May, the government mandated collective leave days from a day before Christmas to New Year’s Day, meaning Indonesians won’t have to go to work from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1.

Previously, the National COVID-19 Task Force said it would recommend the cancellation of the collective leave days as Indonesia continues to record new daily highs for COVID-19 cases in November. As of today, the task force has not reportedly made an official recommendation to the government. 

Indonesia saw a dip in cases at the beginning of November, but that was later attributed to reduced testing during a five-day long weekend at the end of October. A couple of weeks after that break, Indonesia’s daily count spiked dramatically — the country recorded its highest daily count of 5,444 on Nov. 13.

While having a rare week-off between Christmas and the New Year would’ve been a great end to this miserable year, it’s undoubtedly for the greater good that the break is shortened or canceled lest public health be sacrificed.

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