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Java to limit year-end festivities, Medan opts for looser restrictions

Jakarta Post - December 20, 2020

Jakarta – Provinces in Java have imposed strict health restrictions for the year-end holidays in an attempt to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Nevertheless, the North Sumatran city of Medan has decided to proceed with Christmas and New Year celebrations while urging residents to avoid crowds, despite the province's prohibition of crowded events.

Medan administration official Renward Parapat, representing the city's acting mayor Akhyar Nasution said on Thursday that the administration would help ensure that Christmas and New Year celebrations in the city would run smoothly and safely.

"This year's Christmas celebration must be carried out by following health protocols, given that the COVID-19 epidemic is still affecting Medan. We hope that such conditions won't lessen the solemnity of the celebration for the sake of everyone's safety," said Renwardi.

Separately, the Central Java administration announced that it would require visitors to produce negative rapid antigen test results to enter the province during the holidays. The administration would also conduct random antigen tests at several rest areas and tourist spots, tribunnews.com reported on Friday.

The administration of Surakarta, Central Java, which previously announced a mandatory quarantine for incoming travelers during the year-end holidays, has issued a circular establishing additional rules that took effect on Sunday, kompas.id reported.

The circular, signed by Surakarta deputy mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo on Saturday, orders non-residents to be quarantined in the Solo Technopark if they plan to stay more than 24 hours in a residence for the holidays.

Nevertheless, the circular further mentions that the quarantine is not mandatory for non-residents who are temporarily working in Surakarta or for non-residents who could provide negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and rapid antigen tests, valid for a maximum of two days, to officials. The mandatory quarantine is to be in force from Sunday to Jan. 4, 2021.

The city previously planned to deploy officers at airports, bus terminals and train stations to monitor travelers but scrapped the plan as it was deemed ineffective. The administration noted that people at the aforementioned transportation hubs were not only homecoming travelers but also tourists and travelers arriving for other purposes, such as work.

"Therefore, we are focusing on the deployment of Jogo Tonggo members to report to us if they record homecoming travelers. Visitors who spend more than 24 hours in the area are obliged to report to Jogo Tonggo," said Rudyatmo.

Tourists staying at hotels in the city for the holidays were not obliged to quarantine, he added, because hotels would be enforcing health protocols to curb infection.

East Java and West Java have declared that no large-scale festive events may take place for Christmas or New Year.

West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said the province would ban crowded New Year's Eve celebrations in public spaces indoors and outdoors, saying they increased the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

He added, however, that he would not prohibit family or personal gatherings on New Year's Eve, saying that such events were unavoidable. "We cannot avoid personal [gatherings]," Ridwan said in Bandung, West Java, on Monday. (nkn/apg)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/12/20/java-to-limit-year-end-festivities-medan-opts-for-looser-restrictions.htm