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Women's groups call for eased restrictions as daycares reopen

By Rana Husseini - Jun 06,2020 - Last updated at Jun 07,2020

AMMAN — Women's groups on Saturday welcomed a recent decision by the government to allow daycare centres for working mothers to reopen under strict health measures, but called on the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) to ease restrictions on the centres.

Nurseries were among the establishments that remained closed in early May when the government allowed several economic sectors to resume work under strict health protocols.

On Saturday, the MoSD issued regulations under which daycare centres could reopen. These regulations include obliging all nursery workers to test negative for the coronavirus before returning to work. 

Pregnant employees are restricted from working during this period and centres are only allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity, according to the regulations.

Other regulations include closing an establishment for 17 days if a case of COVID-19 is discovered at that centre and obliging the establishments to perform weekly medical examinations on the children via a physician.

Each establishment is required to designate a room for keeping any suspected cases of COVID-19 until they can be picked up. Any child who has been exposed to a person with the virus will not be admitted to the facility, the regulations state.

Parents of the children are prohibited from visiting their children at the centres and all children must remove their shoes when they arrive and wear new ones inside the centres.

The regulations also stipulated that the establishments will bear the costs of medical examinations for children and staff.

SADAQA organisation team member Rana Ali welcomed the government's decision since "it was one of the main demands because we believe in the importance of the childcare industry". 

Ali told The Jordan Times that SADAQA reiterates its previous demand on the government to establish a special fund to support the daycare sector, which was "hit hard by the closure due to the COVID-19 crisis".

Nancy Odeh, a daycare owner, said that the MoSD regulations are “difficult” because they stipulate providing each teacher with a medical gown to be worn once every time they come to work, and require the centre to pay for coronavirus tests.

"This will add a heavy burden on us, since we have to endure extra costs and at the same time, we are only allowed to receive 50 per cent of our regular capacities," Odeh said.

"These entities were hit hard financially and have accumulated utility bills to pay as well as rent and other costs. A special fund is urgently needed," Ali said.

The next step, according to Ali, is to revise the recent MoSD regulations, which "we consider harsh and a bit unrealistic, especially for the daycare centres that are located in less-privileged areas". 

Meanwhile, Solidarity Is Global Institute (SIGI) issued a statement on Saturday calling on the government to open kindergartens and schools.

"The government's step to open the nurseries is very important but we do hope that the next step would be opening other entities such as schools and kindergartens so that working women would not end up losing their jobs because they have to stay at home with their children," the SIGI statement said.

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