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Indonesian government calls off New Year

Three-week ban imposed on public gatherings, including ushering in 2021, in bid to curb Covid-19 infections
Indonesian government calls off New Year

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan says the government has decided to ban New Year’s Eve celebrations and other events involving large crowds starting from Dec. 18. (Photo courtesy of Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investments Ministry) 

Published: December 16, 2020 09:05 AM GMT
Updated: December 16, 2020 09:10 AM GMT

The Indonesian government has banned New Year Eve’s celebrations and other events involving large crowds over the next three weeks to prevent a spike in coronavirus cases.

The ban will take effect on Dec. 18 and will last until Jan. 8, according to Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the coordinating maritime affairs and investments minister.

He told several provincial governors during a virtual meeting on Dec. 14 that the move was to avoid a repetition of a long weekend at the end of October during and after which there was a sharp rise in the number of cases.

“The number of Covid-19 cases and deaths has continued to increase since the extended break. Before this, there was a relatively downward trend,” he said.

As of Dec. 15, Indonesia had recorded 629,429 Covid-19 cases and 18,956 deaths. Of this number, Jakarta province alone had recorded 155,122 cases and 2,972 fatalities.

The minister said the government has called on Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan to implement a stricter work-from-home policy requiring up to 75 percent of workers to remain at home and to continue the closing of shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment venues at 7pm.

Luhut also said all events involving large crowds, such as wedding receptions and religious activities, must be limited or even banned.

Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, a member of the Catholic Network Against Covid-19 (JKMC-19), an alliance spearheaded by Indonesian lay groups to coordinate efforts against the coronavirus, welcomed the move.

“I agree with the policy. We want to save people’s lives and saving people’s lives needs extraordinary efforts,” the priest told UCA News.

He also called on people to respect the ban. “Both the government and the people should work together in implementing this ban. Never get tired of maintaining health protocols as people’s lives depend on it.”

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