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Asia Minute: Indonesia limits holiday vacation time

AP Photo/Dita Alangkara

As year-end holidays approach for countries around the world, one nation in the Asia Pacific is taking a new approach this year.

Indonesia’s government is taking some pre-emptive steps to head off any potential spread of COVID-19 around holidays at the end of the year.

All town squares will be closed on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 — and all arts, cultural and sports events will be banned between Dec. 24 and Jan. 2.

While Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, there are also restrictions that affect Christmas.

The government is barring all civil servants and workers in state-owned enterprises and private companies from taking extended vacations around Christmas and New Year’s.

Coronavirus cases in Indonesia have declined sharply in recent months from a peak in August — but it’s the experience of past holidays that has led health officials to urge caution when it comes to domestic travel.

The Straits Times reports that extensive travel around the country followed a religious holiday in May — when more than 2 million people left the greater Jakarta area alone.

The number of viral cases and deaths shot up in following weeks — hospitals were packed beyond capacity and suffered shortages of oxygen.

Local media estimates the new rules will affect more than 4 million government employees, more than 2 million workers at state-owned enterprises, and millions more in the private sector.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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