Home World Middle East Coronavirus: Jordan to deliver food after imposing indefinite curfew

Coronavirus: Jordan to deliver food after imposing indefinite curfew
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Jordan has imposed an indefinite curfew that bans people from leaving their homes under any circumstances, to try to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The government said municipalities, utility companies and businesses would deliver basic supplies, including bread, water, infant formula milk, medicine and fuel.

Violation of the curfew is punishable by up to one year in prison.

The country has reported 127 cases of Covid-19 but no deaths.

Jordan has a population of about 10 million and hosts some 1.3 million Syrian refugees.

In a video message to the nation, King Abdullah II expressed his confidence in Jordanians’ ability to rise to the challenge of fighting the pandemic.

"Today, my brothers and sisters, my family, my people, and my source of fortitude each and every one of you is a soldier of this nation, each in your own post," he said.

The measures in Jordan are some of the most restrictive to have been imposed by countries battling Covid-19, which has infected more than 330,000 people and claimed 14,500 lives.

Chaos and calm as Jordanians queue for bread

Yolande Knell, BBC Middle East correspondent

On social media, Jordanians have shared videos of buses being mobbed in some neighbourhoods while in others, locals have queued in a safe, orderly fashion.

"It's trial and error at a very critical time," said Lubna Wardeh, a resident of the capital Amman, as she waited for a bus with supplies to arrive on her street so she could buy bread and water.

"Those people who went crazy put our quarantine back at zero."

Information Minister Amjad Adaileh said 25,000 tonnes of bread were being distributed, and that there was enough for everybody.

As the curfew began on Monday night, Labour Minister Nidal Bataineh told a television programme that in Amman, water and bread would be distributed to households by municipal vehicles and bottled-water delivery lorries between 09:00 and 17:00 each day.

In other provinces, they would be delivered by bus, he added.

Each packet of bread will weigh 3kg and cost $1.35 (£1.16).

“We will reach each and every home, and gradually we will deliver other basic commodities,” Mr Bataineh said.

Deliveries of foodstuffs such as chicken, eggs and rice as well as tobacco will begin on Thursday. Delivery charges will be capped.

“We will try to reach the doors of the homes directly to prevent wandering on the streets, which goes against the curfew order,” the minister added.

People with medical problems are required to contact the authorities.

Thousands of troops have been deployed at checkpoints in main cities to oversee the curfew.

"There are people who do not know the extent of the danger that is lurking and insist on breaking the law," army spokesman Brig-Gen Mukhles al-Mufleh said on Monday, adding that more than 800 people had been arrested since a three-day curfew was initially imposed on Sunday.

Violators will be taken to prisons and remanded in custody for two weeks before a decision is taken on whether to prosecute them. Interior Minister Salameh Hamad said: “We won’t be lenient.”

Ministers were worried that lifting the curfew for a few hours each day would lead to panic buying and queues, and accelerate the spread of the virus.

Last week, King Abdullah II issued a decree granting the government sweeping powers to curtail basic rights.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz pledged to carry it out to the “narrowest extent” and not to impinge political rights, freedom of expression or private property.

The government had already closed Jordan’s land and air borders, converted more than 30 hotels into quarantine centres for people arriving from abroad, and closed public and private businesses and offices.

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