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July 7 2022 11:38 AM ˚
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COVID-19: The crisis of the government and MPs

Fahed Khitan (Photo: Jordan News)
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It has been clear since the beginning that the ceiling of intended annual government measures would not rise to the expectations of MPs and some commercial sectors, who have been demanding the cancellation of Friday lockdowns and evening curfews.اضافة اعلان

The joint meeting between the government and Lower House earlier this week was an event that highlighted the discrepancy in the stances of the two parties regarding the steps needed. MPs, unsurprisingly, sided with public sentiment, which has had enough of curfews, lockdowns, and strict health measures, while entities concerned with public health are bound by scientific considerations, as the prime minister put it in the meeting.

In conclusion, the two parties could not come to an agreement on the much-anticipated bundle of relaxed measures, forcing the government to push back the announcement of these decisions. Afterwards, minister of state for media affairs and government spokesperson, Sakher Dudin, and head of the Lower House COVID-19 committee, Khalil Attieh, spoke at a press conference that clearly sought to smooth things over and avoid labelling the meeting a failure.

This is not the first time that the government has gone back to review coronavirus measures. It has previously made decisive and difficult decisions under worse circumstances than those we are seeing today; without the need for the Lower House’s approval. 

There was no need to revise these measures before mid-May, which was the government’s original deadline but the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan, a decrease in infection rates, and mounting pressures from commercial sectors — counting on pre-Eid-Al-Fitr sales — held sway.

This is undoubtedly a difficult equation and balance is required between the health and economic sides, but such balance is unfeasible in the midst an unstable epidemiological situation, which has the potential to spiral once more.

The Ministry of Health and the Epidemiological Committee fear a third wave if all sectors are reopened before the national vaccination drive reaches its preset targets. With the spread of the Indian strand in a number of countries, worries continue to grow and questions about the efficacy of vaccines against the virus become more prevalent.

There were expectations that the beginning of next month would mark the end of Jordan’s experience with closures, but it turned out yesterday that this date simply denoted the beginning of a gradual process that would extend till early July, ensuring a safe summer once 3 million people have been vaccinated.

Jordan shares its agenda with dozens of countries, even those that have made significantly more progress on the vaccination front. Government across the globe have learned from the pandemic about the importance of heeding caution in taking measures, rather than recklessly relaxing precautions before ensuring their ability to contain the virus.

Around 100 MPs have signed a memorandum requested a complete revocation of lockdown measures, but the government seems adamant on resisting the pressure. It will compromise by reducing evening curfew by two or three hours, and maintaining Friday lockdowns, despite debates about its efficacy.

In return, health-sector entities are gearing up to double down on their vaccination efforts, as Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh has announced a plan to vaccinate 150,000 starting May 8, after the government signed a contract to purchase 10 million jabs.

And rather than having citizens queue up at vaccination centers, field medical teams have begun administering the shots at places of work.

Ultimately, there will be no return to a normal or semi-normal state of life, unless most of the population has been vaccinated. Otherwise, we will continue to experience fluctuation between partial and full lockdowns.

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