Indonesia has imposed restrictions on public transport ahead of the annual exodus to home villages which marks the end of the fasting month of the Muslim, Ramadan, to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus or COVID-19, the government stated on Sunday.

Around 75 million people of Indonesia usually come to their home towns from bigger cities at the end of the Ramadan which is due this year at the end of May. But the health experts have warned against an increase in the number of cases.

Indonesia to impose travel restrictions

Coronavirus
Workers of Junjiang Industrial Limited Company package medical gloves in Yilong New District at Bouyei-Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Qianxinan in southwest China's Guizhou Province, Feb. 21, 2020. Medical supply companies in Yilong New District have been producing medical supplies at full capacity to support the fight against the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. (Xinhua/Yang Wenbi/IANS) Xinhua/IANS

Public buses, trains, aeroplanes and ships will be allowed to fill only half their passenger seats, under a new regulation that also limits occupation of a private car to just half the seats, while a motorcycle may be ridden only by one person. "The essence of this new regulation is to carry out public transport control...while still meeting the needs of the people," transport ministry spokeswoman Adita Irawati said in a statement posted on the cabinet secretariat website.

The capital Jakarta is the epicentre of the outbreak in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, with the most infections and deaths among a national tally of 3,842 cases and 327 fatalities. President Joko Widodo has been criticized for rejecting calls for an outright ban on the Ramadan travel home, as well as stricter lockdowns such as those imposed by neighbours.

Ministry ordered public transport operators to check passengers' temperature

Widodo has instead sought to persuade people to stay put by expanding welfare programs. He has opted for widespread social curbs in some areas, letting local authorities decide on closures of schools and offices, and bans on mass gatherings. Sunday's directive also limits public transport vehicles to half capacity, shorter operational hours and set out guidelines for motorbike taxis in regions covered by Indonesia's large-scale social restrictions.

The ministry also ordered public transport operators to check passengers' temperature, while bus terminals, train stations, airports and seaports must provide soap and hand sanitizers and standby medical staff. Jakarta and surrounding cities in Southeast Asia's biggest country, such as Bogor, Depok and Bekasi are under the large-scale curbs, known by their Indonesian abbreviation, PSBB.

(With agency inputs)