Indonesia Scraps Travel Quarantine

In this file photo a woman takes part in a simulation of COVID-19 health protocols at the international airport in Tuban on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on 9 October, 2021, ahead of the island reopening to tourists on 14 October. (AFP Photo)

Indonesia on Wednesday officially lifted quarantine requirements for overseas travellers and allowed the resumption of traditional practises for the upcoming holy month of Ramadan after two years of tight pandemic restrictions.

The easing of restrictions follows a decline in COVID-19 cases in the Southeast Asian archipelago, which battled an Omicron-fuelled surge earlier this year.

"The COVID-19 situation in our country continues to improve. Therefore, the government decided to take some easing measures," President Joko Widodo said in a public statement on Wednesday.

Overseas travellers will be exempted from quarantine if they return a negative PCR test.

"However, if the travellers are tested positive, our COVID-19 taskforce will handle them," Widodo said.

The measures come two weeks after a test reopening limited to the holiday island of Bali.

The government also expanded its visa-on-arrival policy for travellers from 42 countries, an increase from 23.

With the fasting month around the corner, Widodo also announced that traditional Ramadan evening prayers (tarawih) will resume at mosques in the world's largest Muslim majority country.

Mass prayers have been restricted since the pandemic hit the country in 2020, although some communities have defied the ban.

A yearly exodus of Indonesians to their hometowns for Eid al-Fitr celebrations at the end of the month of Ramadan, another cherished tradition, will also be allowed to resume, the president said.

Celebrations had been prohibited for two years to prevent the spread of the virus.

"We also allow those wanting to go back to their hometowns for Eid al-Fitr provided that they have received full doses of vaccines and a booster shot," he said.