Jordan to scrap remaining coronavirus restrictions

Prime minister says country can 'co-habit' with pandemic

Tourists at the Amman Citadel. The coronavirus has ravaged the country's tourism sector. Reuters
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Jordan will abandon all remaining coronavirus restrictions apart from vaccination requirements in the next few weeks, officials said.

Authorities scrapped most curbs related to the pandemic in the middle of last year. But limits on gatherings stayed and PCR testing for those travelling into the kingdom was reintroduced in November after it entered what officials described as a third wave of the pandemic.

Recorded infections have since risen by 40 per cent to 1.5 million. Officially recognised deaths from coronavirus increased by 16 per cent to 13,554 people. In the past two months, between 20 and 30 per cent of people who took PCR tests in the kingdom of 10.7 million people have tested positive.

“The government is on course to declare in the next few weeks the end of measures regarding the coronavirus pandemic and a transition to habitation with the pandemic and its different variants,” said Prime Minister Bisher Al Khasawneh, quoted by official media.

“By then we will be in a safe phase in the confrontation with the pandemic.”

The lifting of restrictions is expected to revive tourism, which accounted for a fifth of the economy before the pandemic.

Low-cost airline traffic from Europe picked up last year, but tourists have largely stayed away from the kingdom since November. Hotel occupancy is running at seven per cent.

Official unemployment figures hover around a record high of 25 per cent. The economy has been stagnant for more than a decade, with government data showing 2 per cent economic growth last year, compared with a 2 per cent retraction in 2020.

Saeed Jaradat, a member of the government’s Pandemic Committee, said the committee had recommended to the authorities scrapping PCR-testing requirements “to encourage people to enter our airports”.

“It will be the start of a total transformation in the way we deal with the coronavirus,” Mr Jaradat told official television.

He said the emphasis would turn on vaccinations and that the “green pass” proving vaccination would still be required to enter businesses and government departments. Less than half of Jordan's 10.7 million population has been vaccinated.

Adel Al Belbeisi, another health official, said there would be no social distancing required at prayer by Ramadan, which starts in April.

Updated: February 16, 2022, 9:28 AM
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