Jordan Declares 48-Hour Curfew, Concern over Virus Impact on Economy
Jordan announced a 48-hour sweeping nationwide curfew that would start from Thursday midnight, in a stepped-up bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the government spokesman said.
The government two weeks ago relaxed a tight curfew that allowed people to go on foot during day time to buy groceries to ease daily life for the nearly 10 million inhabitants.
Last Thursday, the kingdom imposed a 24-hour curfew to allow medical staff unimpeded entry to areas they suspect the virus is spreading in, a move which brought public life to a complete standstill.
Jordan has registered 353 cases and six deaths.
Jordan's state finances will be deeply hurt by a loss of revenue caused by the impact of the coronavirus on its economy but it will be able to repay its foreign debt obligations, the finance minister said.
Mohammed Al Ississ said in remarks on state television that the government's 2020 budget priorities would also be affected by a steep fall in economic activity as a result of a lockdown ordered to stem the spread of the virus.
"As far as international and domestic (debt) obligations on Jordan and bonds, we have made all the arrangements to honor them when they become due," Al Ississ said.
The country's $42 billion public debt is equivalent to 97 percent of gross domestic product.
The crisis will not prompt the country to scale down public spending in its 9.8 billion dinars ($14 billion) budget for 2020, Al Ississ said, adding this would only accelerate the economic downturn.
But budget priorities would change with a focus on more social spending to ease hardships among low income Jordanians.
The kingdom, which imports almost all its energy needs, hopes however to capitalize on a drop in oil prices to reduce a 2 billion dinars ($2.8 billion) annual bill, Al Ississ said. ($1=0.7090 dinars)
Egypt, Libya extend curfew
Egypt on Wednesday extended its night-time curfew and other preventative measures for two more weeks, until April 23, though it scaled back curfew hours to 8 pm to 6 am.
Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly pleaded with Egyptians to practice social distancing, stay at home and adhere to the government measures, saying the Arab world's most populous country is expecting a spike in infections in the next two to three weeks.
Egypt has shuttered schools, universities, mosques, churches and archaeological sites, including the famed Giza Pyramids, halted international air travel, and ordered restaurants, coffee shops, malls and gyms to close at night to encourage people to stay at home.
Still, 1.8-meter social distancing has become impossible at times in the capital Cairo, a city of more than 20 million people, and other metropolitan areas. Many are still going to work during the daytime, encountering some busy buses and microbuses. Commuters are seen just centimeters apart, most not wearing face masks. Egypt has more than 1,500 confirmed virus cases, with at least 103 deaths.
The government in eastern Libya extended its curfew by a week in areas under its control to stem the spread of the virus. Libya has confirmed 21 cases of the coronavirus, including one death.