Jordan imposes nationwide curfew against epidemic

Thousands of soldiers have been deployed inside cities and on main highways.
Sunday 22/03/2020
Jordanian army members stand guard at a check point after the start of a nationwide curfew in Amman,  March 21. (Reuters)
Till further notice. Jordanian army members stand guard at a check point after the start of a nationwide curfew in Amman, March 21. (Reuters)

AMMAN - Jordan instituted a nationwide curfew on March 21, limiting the mobility of its 10 million citizens indefinitely to combat the spread of coronavirus. Anyone violating the curfew, which restricts movement beyond emergencies and essential services, could be jailed up to a year, the army said.

“Anyone going outside will be subjecting themselves to punishment,” Jordanian Justice Minister Bassam Talhouni warned. The curfew is to be in place until further notice.

Thousands of soldiers deployed inside cities and on main highways across the country while armoured police vehicles roamed city streets, calling on people to heed warnings not to leave their homes.

The curfew was announced after officials criticised the presence of many people on the streets even after warnings to stay home, a ban on gatherings and public worship and suspension of work for civil servants and private companies.

“Unfortunately, we have seen recklessness in scenes of shopping and moving around in the streets. These pose a grave danger to our efforts to contain the epidemic,” government spokesman Amjad Adailah said.

The new measures seemed to be working because streets across Amman and other main cities were deserted and shops shuttered after the curfew went into effect.

Jordanian King Abdullah II enacted an emergency decree giving the government sweeping powers to enforce an army-imposed curfew and other measures that restrict civil and political liberties.

Health Minister Saad Jaber said Jordan had 85 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with officials warning that numbers could rise.

Jordan closed land and sea border crossings with Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Israel and suspended all incoming and outgoing flights March 17.

The government said Jordan, which imports most of its food and is an energy importer, has several months’ worth of commodities and petroleum products stockpiled.

Economy authorities delayed loan payments, slashed interest rates and injected monetary to help cushion the country from economic effects of the crisis.