Jakarta extends social distancing ahead of Ramadan

Bangkok: Social restrictions in Indonesia's capital have been extended as Muslims in the world's most populous Muslim nation prepare for a month of fasting.

Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan said the restrictions that were to end Thursday will be extended to May 22. In a live-streamed news conference late Wednesday, Baswedan urged Muslims to suspend mosque activities during Ramzan to break the coronavirus transmission chain.

Islam's holiest month is expected to begin Friday after clerics agreed on the sighting of the moon. Faithful Muslims usually fast during the day then congregate for night prayers, called Tarawih, and share communal meals called iftar.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo acknowledged last month that the government chose to withhold information about the coronavirus outbreak in the country to avoid stirring panic. But the delays in social distancing and low testing rates have raised concern that its outbreak is worse than it has acknowledged.

Baswedan is a political rival of the president and has sought tougher restrictions as the capital becomes a virus epicenter. Jakarta had confirmed 3,383 cases with 301 fatalities as of Wednesday. Nationwide, 7,418 cases have been recorded with 635 fatalities.

The new measures in Jakarta, which are to be reevaluated every two weeks, give authorities more power to press people to stay at home and force businesses to close. Police have the power to dismiss any event with more than five participants. Violators will face up to one year in jail and a 100 million rupiah ($6,350) fine.

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Free Press Journal