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Indonesia's annual holiday exodus to go ahead this year as COVID-19 cases ease

Indonesia's annual holiday exodus to go ahead this year as COVID-19 cases ease

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks enjoy a pedestrian bridge during the dusk amid of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan/File Photo

JAKARTA: Indonesia will lift a ban on domestic travel during the Muslim holiday season of Eid al-Fitr in early May, President Joko Widodo said on Wednesday (Mar 23), after banning the annual tradition for two years during the pandemic.

The decision to allow the annual exodus after the holy month of Ramadan is the latest in a series of measures aimed at easing COVID-19 restrictions and reviving Southeast Asia's largest economy.

Indonesia, a country of 270 million, banned the mass travel known locally as "mudik" in early 2020 as it scrambled to contain the spread of coronavirus along with the rest of the world.

But millions of people flouted the poorly enforced ban and left urban centres for their home towns and villages, as is the tradition in the predominantly Muslim country.

As COVID-19 cases plateau after peaking in mid-February because of the virulent Omicron variant, authorities are lifting domestic and overseas travel restrictions.

"The improving COVID-19 situation has brought optimism as the Ramadan holy month is upon us," the president, commonly known as Jokowi, told a news conference.

"People who want to go on 'mudik' are now allowed."

Earlier this week, Indonesia dropped quarantine rules for vaccinated foreign arrivals, following similar moves by other countries in the region.

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Source: Reuters/ng
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