AMMAN — Jordan’s army sealed off the capital from the rest of the country on Thursday as the country put its 10 million people on lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus, witnesses and officials said.
Army checkpoints on main entrances to the sprawling capital of more than 3 million inhabitants began imposing a ban that allows entry only to vehicles carrying essential goods or people with authorized business from other provinces, witnesses said.
“These measures are to prevent the spread of the virus,” army spokesman Brigadier General Mukhles al Mufleh told state media.
On Tuesday, King Abdullah invoked a defense act that grants Prime Minister Omar Razzaz broader authority, hours after the army began a deploying on the main highways leading to the capital and main cities across the country.
The law, passed at times of war and calamity, is needed to enable major decisions that in normal times would infringe political and civil rights, such as imposing curfews and deploying the army in cities, officials said.
The government has not announced a formal curfew, but called on people to stay at home and move only for emergencies.
But many people were still on the streets on Thursday, which Razzaz said was not acceptable and could pose a danger to efforts to contain the spread of the disease.
“What we saw from scenes of gatherings of some people causes big harm and we may be forced to take tougher measures leading to a curfew,” Razzaz said, without specifying when.
Jordan has closed land and sea border crossings with Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Israel, and suspended all incoming and outgoing flights since Tuesday. Only cargo flights and commercial overland shipments are entering or leaving the country.