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Defense Order 35 creates mixed opinions among business owners

A café in Amman closed during the nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Defense Order 35, banning the entry of individuals into public places as well as public and private institutions if they have not taken two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, has officially become effective with the turn of the new year, bringing with it a divisive discussion on affected businesses and commercial activities in the Kingdom. اضافة اعلان

Chairman of the Amman Chamber of Commerce Khalil Haj Tawfiq, who represents the interests of the Jordanian business community and private sector, told Jordan News that Defense Order 35 could create some difficulties for business owners, voicing reservations about the fact that the order applies to all businesses, regardless of their size. “I am not sure that small businesses have the capability to carry out these government-mandated checks on the vaccination status of individuals,” Haj Tawfiq said.

According to Haj Tawfiq, large businesses like malls and banks have the financial capacity to hire inspectors and security guards to implement the order’s vaccination checks, and since small businesses are not as capable of carrying out such measures, “they should be exempted from these specific requirements”.

Additionally, he pointed out that punishing business owners for customers’ non-compliance is not the right approach. “Business owners should be held accountable for the vaccination status of their own employees,” he said. He agreed that everyone should get vaccinated, noting that 95 percent people working in the commercial sector are vaccinated. But, he believes that “it is illogical to penalize business owners for the misconduct of customers” and that he is against the idea of closures as a means of punishing businesses.

“We, at the Amman Chamber of Commerce, were not consulted before the implementation of Defense Order 35. Instead of devising punishments for those who have not been vaccinated, I think a better approach would have been to create incentives that would encourage people to get vaccinated instead,” Haj Tawfiq said.

Article 3b of the Defense Order stipulates that “establishments shall be penalized with a fine of JD100 for the first violation, JD200 for the second violation, JD300 for the third violation, and in case the violation is repeated, the establishment will be shut down for one week.”

In contrast, Ziad Househ, a Jordanian businessman who owns a chain of bars and restaurants, told Jordan News that the provisions of Defense Order 35 are excellent and stand as the right approach that the country needed to take. “I don’t believe that it will negatively affect the Jordanian economy, because now people will feel less afraid of going to public places and restaurants, since being confident that the populace is vaccinated creates a sense of relief for people.”

Househ said that since the start of the pandemic, he appointed an employee whose specific role has been to check customers’ vaccination status, and that he did not view the appointment of this employee as a burden or additional cost on his enterprises. “I do not see the need to amend any part of Defense Order 35; all of the government’s decisions relating to the pandemic have been sound,” Househ noted.

Similarly, Jordanian restaurant owner Ehab Akroush corroborated the praise towards Order 35 and related instructions, saying that he believed the measure was the correct way to respond to the pandemic. “Personally, I am in favor of these regulations. I do not expect my customer base to shrink as a result of this government mandate. This is because a vast majority of our customers are vaccinated, and all of my employers are fully vaccinated.”

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