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Sun 26 Jul 2020 03:21 PM

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Jordan to reopen to 'low risk' countries in August

Countries listed by the health ministry include Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy and New Zealand

Jordan to reopen to 'low risk' countries in August

Tourism earned Jordan around $5.3 billion last year.

Jordan will reopen its airports to commercial flights next month after a near five-month shutdown imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus, an official said Sunday.

The move comes as the country is trying to revive its economy which has been badly hit since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Civil aviation commission chief Haitham Misto told state television that flights from 22 "low risk" countries will be allowed from August 5.

The countries listed by the health ministry include Austria, Canada, China, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Thailand, he said.

Travellers from those countries will not need to isolate for 14 days when they reach Jordan but must be tested for the virus before arriving, Misto said, adding that the list would be updated every two weeks.

Transport Minister Khaled Saif however that those travellers must show proof of having spent two weeks in one of the countries on the list before arriving in Jordan.

Anyone providing false information will be fined 10,000 dinars ($14,000), he said.

The desert kingdom, which has recorded 1,154 cases of the virus including 11 deaths, imposed a tough curfew enforced with drones to curb the spread of Covid-19, before easing policies in early June.

Airports were closed in mid-March and international flights suspended.

The curbs hit cash-strapped Jordan hard. Its economy relies heavily on international aid, tourism revenues and expatriate remittances.

Before the coronavirus struck, Jordan hosted five million visitors a year and tourism accounts for 14 percent of the country's GDP, employing about 100,000 people.

Tourism earned Jordan around $5.3 billion last year.

Around a quarter of a million people a year used to visit Jordan for medical treatment before the pandemic broke out, bringing in some $1.5 billion.

The country was already in a precarious situation even before the new coronavirus, with unemployment at 19.3 percent in the first quarter of this year.

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