Indonesia suspends all passenger travel across cities to prevent Ramadan exodus

The Transportation Ministry will restrict all passenger travel starting on Friday as the government attempts to prevent citizens from participating in the annual Idul Fitri tradition of mudik (exodus) to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The ban will not apply to cargo transportation or to vehicles serving special purposes, such as ambulances and fire trucks.

 “The ban will apply to all types of public and private transportation by air, sea, land and railway, except for vehicles carrying leaders of state institutions, police and military vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks, hearses and vehicles transporting logistical supplies, staple goods and medicines,” ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati said in a statement on Thursday.

She added that the ban would apply to vehicles entering and leaving regions that had imposed large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) and those that had been declared COVID-19 red zones.

The ministry’s air transportation director general, Novie Riyanto, said all passenger transportation to domestic and overseas destinations – both commercial and chartered flights – would be suspended starting Friday at midnight until June 1.

The ban does not apply to flights carrying leaders of state institutions or foreign envoys, nor does it apply to aircraft engaging in special repatriation operations for Indonesians or foreign nationals. Air cargo transportation will also be permitted.

“Air navigation services will remain in operation. Meanwhile, airports will stay open to serve aircraft as they take off and land,” said Novie.

The ministry’s land transportation director general Budi Setiyadi said toll, national and provincial roads would remain open. However, checkpoints would be set up at several locations, guarded by police and military personnel as well as ministry officials.

The restriction on land transportation will apply until May 31.

Zulfikri, the ministry’s train director general, said all train service until June 15 would be canceled and that passengers who had already purchased tickets would receive full refunds.

Passenger transportation by sea will be suspended until June 8. Ships are permitted to transport only goods until that time.

Adita said anyone found breaking the mudik ban would be sanctioned, as the ministerial decree on the ban stipulated punishments for violators. The punishments ranged from being ordered to return to the point of departure to fines.