With Indonesia set to ban the annual homecoming exodus tradition next month, officials in Bali say the province will step up security measures at various ports of entry, ready to turn away travelers who defy the restrictions.
"Mudik is banned during the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone, especially civil servants, because they must set an example for the public," I Made Rentin, secretary of Bali's COVID-19 task force, said.
Popularly known as mudik, this tradition coincides with the Eid al-Fitr holiday and 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.
"Points of entry will be guarded with heightened measures. [In Bali] this will be Ngurah Rai airport, in Gilimanuk [Port], and others," Rentin said.
Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy previously announced that the ban will go into force from May 6 to 17, while citizens are strongly advised not to travel out of their respective regions prior and after the mudik ban period. Officials said the decision to ban mudik again this year is to curb potential risks to COVID-19 transmission.
According to Rentin, there are few exceptions to the rule, such as those who have to attend to urgent matters, including the death of a family member. These travelers must carry with them a letter from either village or neighborhood officials, the local COVID-19 task force, or the hospital where the deceased was treated. The document must be presented alongside negative results from a COVID-19 test.
Though Muhadjir said the ban is in place from May 6 nationwide, Rentin said Bali will begin to enforce it on May 9.
"The mudik ban is about six to seven days starting from May 9 ... if people are traveling with incomplete documents they will be told to return," Rentin said.