Jordan eases nationwide curfew and allows shops to open

People stand in line to buy bread from a bus in front of their homes after Jordan announced it would extend a curfew indefinitely. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 March 2020

Jordan eases nationwide curfew and allows shops to open

  • As of Wednesday people would be allowed to leave their homes from 10 a.m. to 18:00 p.m.

AMMAN: Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said on Tuesday the government would allow people to go on foot to buy groceries in neighborhood shops to ease daily life for the nearly 10 million inhabitants under a tight curfew to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The curfew was imposed on Saturday after King Abdullah enacted an emergency decree giving the government sweeping powers to enforce an army-imposed curfew and other measures that restrict civil and political liberties. The government justified the severe restrictions by saying that many people had flouted calls to stay at home, risking the fast spread of the virus.
Shops, bakeries and even pharmacies have since closed in a complete lockdown of businesses and commercial activity, and the army, which was deployed on streets across the country, warned that anyone leaving their homes would face up to a year in jail.
Razzaz said that as of Wednesday people would be allowed to leave their homes from 10 a.m. to 18:00 p.m. to walk to corner shops, groceries, bakeries and pharmacies.
“I understand the worry and anxiety. ... The curfew is not a natural state that we have ever experienced before and reflects negatively and psychologically on us,” Razazz said.
Large supermarkets will reopen on Thursday to sell goods online and to be home-delivered, also to avoid crowding in public places, Razzaz said in a briefing.
Razzaz warned any stampede or rush in any shops would prompt immediate closure. He said the ban on private vehicles would be maintained.
“Either there is discipline or we will close shops that we see congestion,” he said.
Jordan a week ago closed land and sea border crossings with Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Israel, and suspended all incoming and outgoing flights.
The government brought in public transport buses on Tuesday to help bakeries sell bread in residential neighborhoods across the country. But panic buying in some inner city areas erupted as people rushed from their homes for bread, which many Jordanians consume as a daily staple food item, witnesses said.
Health Minister Saad Jaber said on Tuesday that confirmed cases of the virus jumped to 153, with 26 new cases in the biggest daily rise since numbers began to steadily grow last week. There have been no deaths.

Full steam ahead for Egypt-Sudan rail network

Updated 13 min 25 sec ago

Full steam ahead for Egypt-Sudan rail network

  • Gateway project will open continent to new trade and jobs, says Cairo minister

CAIRO: Egypt’s Minister of Transport Kamel Al-Wazir has discussed plans with Sudanese counterpart Hashem bin Auf to build a cross-border railway network between the two neighboring countries.

The pair discussed terms of a joint cooperation document for railway connectivity, which aims to provide funding for an economic, social and environmental feasibility study for the project. The planned network will extend from the Egyptian city of Aswan across the southern border to Sudan’s Wadi Halfa in its first phase.

Funding will be organized through cooperation between Egypt, Sudan and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

Al-Wazir signed the document and delivered it to the Sudanese ambassador in Cairo for signing by the country’s transport minister.

The two sides also discussed a number of road projects, including a prospective land road between Egypt and Chad through Sudan. 

The project aims to be a gateway for trade between the two countries, Chad and West Africa. 

The Cairo-Sudan-Cape Town road, which passes through nine African countries, was also mentioned by the ministers. Al-Wazir also said that Egypt is building a Cairo-Arqin road corridor inside its borders, which passes through the governorates of Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Qena, Luxor and Aswan, and then then extends to the Egyptian border, passing through the Toshka junctions to Arqin, parallel with Sudan.

He added that the new project is important in achieving land connectivity and increasing trade with African countries, as well as serving Egyptian and African citizens, opening new job opportunities and encouraging comprehensive development. The Sudanese side also requested cooperation with Egypt in maritime transport and the training of maritime cadres at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport.

Al-Wazir said that Egypt will provide its capabilities to train the workers, whether through the Arab Academy, Egyptian ports or the Egyptian Authority for Maritime Safety.

The two sides also agreed to hold a joint meeting to follow up on the progress of other cooperation projects and to discuss the development of the Nile Valley Authority for River Navigation.

Al-Wazir’s team said that the coming period should include urgent plans to develop the authority, train river workers and provide support through specialized technical cadres.