The Jordanian government said municipalities, utility companies and businesses would deliver basic supplies, including bread, water, infant formula milk, medicine and fuel, after imposing an indefinite curfew that bans people from leaving their homes under any circumstances.
The draconian measure was enacted to try to contain the spread of coronavirus and violation of the curfew is punishable by up to one year in prison.
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.
Jordan has a population of about 10 million and hosts some 1.3 million Syrian refugees.The country has reported 154 cases of Covid-19 but no deaths.
The measures in Jordan are some of the most restrictive to have been imposed by countries battling Covid-19, which has infected more than 417,900 people and claimed 18,600 lives.
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.
“Its 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 while in other provinces, they would be delivered by bus, he added.
Each packet of bread will weigh 3kg and cost US$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.
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. (Source: BBC)