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Jordan eases coronavirus restrictions after curfew causes chaos

King Abdullah II of Jordan speaks during his televised address t​o the nation on the coronavirus, in Amman, Jordan on 23 March 2020. [Jordanian Royal Council / Handout - Anadolu Agency]
King Abdullah II of Jordan speaks during his televised address t​o the nation on the coronavirus, in Amman, Jordan on 23 March 2020. [Jordanian Royal Council / Handout - Anadolu Agency]

Jordan has eased its indefinite curfew and will allow people to leave their homes on foot to visit vegetable shops, bakeries and pharmacies, after the nationwide curfew caused chaos, officials announced on Tuesday.

In some of the strictest measures used to contain the spread of coronavirus across the world, Jordanian authorities had imposed an indefinite round-the-clock quarantine order, with military personnel on the street to enforce the restrictions since Saturday.

Jordanian forces arrested some 1,657 people across the country for violating the curfew between Saturday and Monday. Those flouting the government lockdown were placed in quarantine centres run by the army and could face up to a year in jail for their actions.

The government had announced plans to distribute bread to residents amid the closure of all food stores due to the nationwide lockdown.

The move caused chaotic scenes across the country, as residents clamoured to receive food distributions from government trucks.

According to CNN, the government’s emergency hotline went offline after the service was inundated with phone calls from citizens complaining that they had nothing left to eat at home.

READ: IMF approves $1.3bn loan programme for Jordan

As a result of the chaos, Local Administration Minister Walid Al-Masri said in a press statement on 24 March, that “work is underway to solve the difficulties that have emerged on the first day of bread distribution to citizens.”

Adding that “the distribution process is ongoing and there is enough stock for everyone, so there is no need for people to leave their houses, as everyone will have their share.”

Minister of State for Media Affairs Amjad Adaileh echoed the statement and promised to resolve problems in the distribution system.

“There are no ideal solutions in such difficult circumstances… errors will be made and will work to improve. Everyone, including citizens, should assume their responsibility in this regard,” Adaileh said.

The government later moved away from the total lockdown order and has allowed people to leave their homes for essential trips, with a 6pm to 10am curfew remaining in place.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz permitted small district shops to open from 25 March, and large markets to provide delivery services from 26 March.

To date, Jordanian officials have reported 212 cases, including two recoveries and no deaths.

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