Jakarta. Senior government officials have gone on social media to plead to Indonesians to refrain from visiting their families and relatives during Idul Fitri holiday this weekend and use video calls instead to celebrate the occasion together with them.
"People should celebrate Idul Fitri at home, not at mosques or on open fields [where congregational prayers are normally held]. We don't want more people getting infected with Covid-19," Vice President Ma'ruf Amin said on Friday.
Indonesia reported 634 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, bringing the number of total cases to 20,763, with 1,326 deaths and only 5,057 recoveries.
The Idul Fitri prayer is usually a public event held all over the archipelago with crowds of thousands congregating on town squares or sports fields for the ritual.
Ma'ruf, a kyai (cleric) in Indonesia's biggest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama, appeal to 225 million Muslims in Indonesia that by staying at home on Idul Fitri they would actually uphold the Islamic teaching of "always do good and avoid harm."
"Holding the Idul Fitri prayer in mosques or open fields will risk further rises in coronavirus transmissions. Islam teaches us to minimize dangers, not magnify them," Ma'ruf said.
Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud M.D. said Idul Fitri this year is no time for "halal bihalal," a tradition of visiting the houses of families, relatives and friends.
"Let's do our halal bihalal online this time," Mahfud said in a video announcement on Friday.
People who still celebrate Idul Fitri with their extended families should practice strict physical distancing and limit the time they spend together, Mahfud said.
Like Ma'ruf, Mahfud also pleaded for Muslims to hold their Idul Fitri prayer at home.
He said the government had consulted the country's major Muslim organizations to ask for their advice on Idul Fitri rituals during a pandemic.
"During a pandemic, we have to do the Idul Fitri prayer at home. This is the recommendation of the Indonesian Ulema Council, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah," Mahfud said.
He said many Muslim-majority countries are also following the same protocol. In Saudi Arabia, two of Islam's holiest sites, Mecca's Great Mosque and Medina's Nabawi Mosque will remain closed for Idul Fitri.
East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa has made the same appeal. She said people should avoid physical contact and video call or phone their families and relatives on Idul Fitri instead of visiting them at their house.
"No handshake, no cheek kissing. Use the technology we have to communicate with your families and relatives on Idul Fitri," Khofifah said in Surabaya on Friday.
East Java has taken over from Jakarta as Indonesia's latest pandemic epicenter, with the province reporting the highest number of daily new cases in the archipelago in the past two days.
The province reported 502 new cases on Thursday and 131 on Friday, bringing the province's total to 3,129 cases or 15 percent of Indonesia's overall tally.