Thousands of informal workers have left Greater Jakarta for their hometowns with a sluggish economy impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Other regional leaders have also expressed concern that the numbers will escalate in Ramadan as people traditionally returned to their hometowns to celebrate Idul Fitri.Ramadan is expected to start on April 23, followed by Idul Fitri on May 23.Read also: COVID-19: ‘Mudik’ risks mass contagion across JavaSome 20 million people traveled to their hometowns to celebrate Idul Fitri in an annual tradition called mudik last year. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced that he would not officially ban people from traveling over the holiday owing to economic concerns, unheeded by warnings from public health experts, who have repeatedly cautioned the government and public not to travel outside Jakarta, the epicenter of the outbreak in the country, as doing so could lead to massive COVID-19 contagion in other areas, where healthcare systems are not up to par with those in big cities. Ridwan welcomed Ma’ruf’s plan in encouraging the MUI, saying that communities would listen to clerics if an edict on mudik was issued.He also told Ma’ruf during the call that allowing mudik to West Java could have dire consequences, as the province was conducting mass rapid tests to reduce undetected cases, adding that West Java was slowly reaching its capacity to handle local cases. Ridwan estimated that 70,000 people planned to head back to West Java this year, which would translate to 70,000 people needing to be supervised, as Jokowi urged regional administrations to track people participating in the exodus and to make sure they self-isolated.He said young people going home might also put the health of their older relatives at risk, as the province’s data showed there were 873 elderly people with other chronic illnesses in every subdistrict in West Java.He also said the dates of the Idul Fitri public holiday could be adjusted, as suggested by President Jokowi.Read also: Scientists call for lockdown to contain COVID-19 ahead of Ramadan, ‘mudik’His administration has also stepped up measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the exodus, including by preparing testing kits at entry points.“If we can control mudik, I can assure you that the area can be safely controlled in a measurable way. But factoring in the mudik makes us regional heads nervous, so hopefully it is an extraordinary concern [for the central government].”While the MUI has not issued a fatwa regarding the matter, the council’s secretary-general ,Anwar Abbas, has strongly advised against participating in an exodus during the pandemic, deeming that doing so was haram.”Mudik from one COVID-19-free area to another is OK but mudik from areas affected by COVID-19 could result in travelers spreading the disease to others. Since [the virus] is very contagious and dangerous, it means people who insist on participating in the exodus will have done something haram,” he said in a statement on Friday.Topics : Vice President Ma’ruf Amin has called on the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) to issue a fatwa declaring that participating in an exodus during a pandemic is haram, to prevent the wider spread of COVID-19 to corners of the archipelago.“We have pushed for the MUI to declare that an exodus during a pandemic is haram,” he said in a video conference with West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil on Friday.His statement came after Ridwan expressed concern that there had been an influx of travelers from Greater Jakarta to West Java.