Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 29 September 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Jordan reopens flights after six-month coronavirus closure

The government has divided inbound arrivals into green, yellow and red countries based on their Covid-19 prevalence and health procedures

Jordan is welcoming travellers from 15 countries with no quarantine required so long as tourists test negative for Covid-19. Courtesy Unsplash
Jordan is welcoming travellers from 15 countries with no quarantine required so long as tourists test negative for Covid-19. Courtesy Unsplash

Jordan reopened its skies to the world on Tuesday after a six-month closure, allowing regular commercial flights to and from Amman International Airport.

The first commercial flight to arrive in the capital since it imposed stringent safety measures on March 17 was an evening flight from Istanbul, the first of three direct flights from Turkey on Tuesday evening.

The day also featured an outbound Emirates flight to Dubai, as well as several commercial flights to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt and Qatar, reconnecting vital regional transit hubs.

On Wednesday, further incoming flights are expected from Kuwait and Thailand.

A Ministry of Transport official expressed hopes that incoming flights to the kingdom would be expanded in the weeks ahead.

Since late June, only one-way irregular outbound flights were offered from Jordan on a bi-weekly basis for foreign travellers and some Jordanians to limited destinations, leaving many uncertain about when and how they could leave the kingdom.

The reopening came after a delay to the planned opening in July and was a glimmer of hope to the private sector and industries that rely on the kingdom’s passenger traffic. Tourism alone accounts for 14 per cent of Jordan’s gross domestic product.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of foreign travellers and Jordanians went the airport as part of the first batch of thousands catching commercial flights back home or to new work assignments outside the kingdom.

“The situation in Jordan was much better than the US or Europe,” said Hussein Ahmed, 36, who was heading for a flight to Frankfurt.

“But I have a job and home to get back to and my children have to start school. We were starting to become worried that we would have to start a new temporary life here in Jordan.”

Those arriving to Jordan will face some of the strictest inbound passenger procedures in the world.

Jordan has divided inbound arrivals into green, yellow and red countries based on their Covid-19 prevalence and health procedures.

All travellers must provide proof that they had been a resident in the departing country for at least 14 days, as well as a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.

Those arriving from green countries must take a second PCR test at the airport and await a negative test result to enter the country.

Those from yellow countries must also be tested and then escorted to a mandatory seven-day quarantine at a hotel or location at their expense during which they will be tested several times.

Those from countries with a high prevalence of Covid-19, coloured red, must enter the government-organised quarantine, and then enter self-isolation at home for a further week, during which they will be required to wear an electronic bracelet.

Any travellers who test positive after arriving in Jordan will be sent to a hospital. Jordanians will receive free care, while non-residents must pay for their treatment.

Green countries include Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Malaysia, Morocco, Poland, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Tunisia.

The UAE is classified as a yellow country, along with Algeria, Austria, Germany, Malta and the Netherlands.

On the eve of the reopening on Monday, King Abdullah II visited the airport and inspected public safety measures, urging officials and airport staff to uphold international standards to safeguard the well-being and health of travellers.

But some citizens said they were concerned that reopening the borders would lead to an increase in Covid-19 cases.

“Our borders and airport were closed and we still got a coronavirus wave because of lorry drivers and border employees,” said Mohanned Khalil, 33, an Uber driver in Amman.

Updated: September 8, 2020 10:20 PM

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