Jordan on Saturday blew sirens at the start of a nationwide curfew that limits the mobility of its 10 million citizens indefinitely in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus, witnesses and officials said, according to Reuters.
Anyone violating the curfew, which severely restricts movement beyond emergency and essential services, can be jailed up to a year, the army said.
“Anyone going outside will be subjecting themselves to punishment,” Justice Minister Bassam Talhouni was quoted as having told Jordan’s Al Mamlaka news channel.
The curfew, in which thousands of soldiers have been deployed inside cities and on main highways across the country, was first announced on Friday and is in place until further notice.
Armored police vehicles roamed the streets of main cities, calling on people to heed warnings not to leave their homes, witnesses said.
Streets across the capital and main cities were deserted, with shops shuttered as police patrolled neighborhoods and the army manned checkpoints, witnesses said.
Jordan has closed land and sea border crossings with Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Israel, and suspended all incoming and outgoing flights since Tuesday, according to Reuters.
The Kingdom’s Health Minister Saad Jaber said on Saturday the confirmed cases of coronavirus had risen to 99 after 15 new cases were identified, with officials warning numbers could rise.
“This number is a dangerous indication,” Jaber said.
The curfew came after officials criticized the presence of many people on the streets even after warnings to stay at home, a ban on gatherings and public worship, and suspension of work for civil servants and private companies.
“Unfortunately, we have seen recklessness in scenes of shopping and moving around in the streets. These pose a grave danger to our efforts to contain the epidemic,” cabinet minister and government spokesman Amjad Adailah said, according to Reuters.
He said hundreds of people were arrested for violating the curfew and legal action would be taken against them.