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Shoppers commit to new strict social-distancing rules as groceries reopen

By Rana Husseini - Mar 25,2020 - Last updated at Mar 25,2020

AMMAN – Shoppers on Wednesday expressed gratitude for the government’s decision to lift the curfew temporarily to allow people to buy food from their local grocery shops.

“I have been standing here for over 20 minutes waiting for my turn to enter the small shop,” a 52-year-old mother of four said.

The woman, who kept almost two-meters distance from people behind her and in front of her in the line that was almost 20 meters long, told The Jordan Times that “people are still taking more than what they need”.

“I bought some food two weeks ago but it was not enough, so I came today to get more food,” the woman, who preferred anonymity, said.

On Tuesday, the government decided to allow small shops and markets to resume work from 10am until 6pm on Wednesday to ensure that the public has safe access to food and primary commodities by only walking to these shops amid the Kingdom’s fight against the spread of COVID-19.

However, the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Omar Razzaz warned that any crowding or abuses will lead to closing the shops again, warning against behaviour like shoving or pushing.

A 21-year-old girl, who was also standing in the same line, said she walked for 15 minutes because there is no shop in her area.

“Our house needs a lot of stuff, but we limited what we want to buy for the time being to the most essential food and other commodities,” she told The Jordan Times.

Jihad Abu Nuwar, who was also standing in the line for some 30 minutes, said she was happy that people are “abiding by the one-meter distance and standing in line”.

“I am here to get the essential goods and am not willing to buy a lot of stuff because most of the house have the needed essentials but if there are some missing stuff, we are able to buy them now,” Abu Nuwar told The Jordan Times.

“We will surely not die from hunger but we might die from the virus if we are not careful enough. The situation is very serious,” Abu Nuwar added.

Meanwhile, 28-year-old Ahmad, who was also waiting for his turn, said this was a good idea because it ensures that people are safe from being infected.

“I prefer to stand here in line than have many people in the small shop because it will increase the possibilities of being infected by the coronavirus God forbid,” Ahmad told The Jordan Times.

On Tuesday, the government began distributing bread using public buses, however, the step was not fruitful in some areas where people pushed and shoved each other to fight for a bag of bread. In other areas, people stood in line and with enough distances waiting for their turn to buy bread from the designated government buses.

Meanwhile, social media users also expressed their relief following the recent government’ step to allow citizens to shop at their local markets.

“Allowing us to visit our local shops gave us some form of reassurance that we can buy our needs. So there is no need for people to panic and go in dozens to commodity stores,” wrote Nour Atiyat on Facebook.

Rismat Waed added: “Slowly slowly people will become more and more committed since bread and other essential needs are available now. The government did a great job in this regard and now it is up to the citizens to abide by the law”.

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