Jordan reopens flights after six-month coronavirus closure

Jordan reopens flights after six-month coronavirus closure
Jordan reopens flights after six-month coronavirus closure

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - 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 incoming commercial flight to arrive in the capital since its stringent lockdown on March 17 was an evening flight coming from Istanbul, the first of three direct flights from Turkey on Tuesday evening.

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

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

A Ministry of Transport official expressed the hope to expand incoming flights and carriers to the kingdom in the weeks ahead.

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

The reopening came after months-delay to the planned opening in July and a glimmer of hope to the private sector and industry that relies on the kingdom’s passenger traffic. Tourism alone accounts for 14 per cent of Jordan’s GDP.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of expats 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 after months of a delayed stay in Jordan few thought would last so long.

“The situation in Jordan was much better than the US or Europe,” said Hussein Ahmed, 36, heading on 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 be met with 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 and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.

Upon arrival, those coming 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 multiple times.

Those from countries with a high prevalence of high-Covid-19, coloured red, must enter the government-organised quarantine, and then enter self-isolation at home for a further 14 days, during which they will be required to wear an electronic bracelet.

Any travellers who test positive upon arrival will be forwarded to a hospital for medical care; Jordanians will receive free care, while non-residents must pay for their treatment.

Green countries include: Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Lithuania, 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 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 not all were happy with the airport’s reopening. Many citizens are skeptical as to whether authorities are able to impose health and safety measures stringently enough to limit infections from incoming travellers.

“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.

“Once they open the airport, it's game over. Anything can happen.”

Updated: September 8, 2020 06:58 PM

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