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Decision to resume dine-in services in restaurants draws cautious welcome

By Maram Kayed - Oct 01,2020 - Last updated at Oct 01,2020

AMMAN — The government’s decision to resume dine-in services in restaurants and cafes with a set of mandatory health measures came into effect Thursday, drawing mixed reactions from the public.


Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Majd Shweikeh announced on Wednesday that the Council of Ministers had approved resuming dine-in services in restaurants and cafes as of Thursday after a two-week ban.


The resumption of services was paired with the condition of a legal commitment on the restaurants’ and cafes’ part to abide by the “necessary additional health requirements in light of the recent increase in the number of coronavirus cases,” according to Shweikeh.


The Minister on Wednesday said during a press briefing that the signed pledge will be verified by the concerned authority for each restaurant category, which can either be the Tourism Ministry, the Trade Ministry, the Greater Amman Municipality, or other municipalities.


The pledge requires restaurants and cafes to allow a maximum of 50 per cent of their sitting capacity with no more than 10 people per table in addition to the requirement of a two-metre distance between tables and mandatory masks for employees and customers alike.


The requirements also include prohibiting parties, assigning an employee to follow up on compliance with health conditions, measuring customers’ temperature and conducting virus tests for all restaurant workers.


Customers who do not wear a mask are denied entry to restaurants and they are also required to download the Aman app before entering.


“I am glad to see the resumption of services.  The selective closures were both unjustified and unhelpful,” said Hashim Finjan, a worker at a restaurant in Abdoun.

“These regulations did nothing to de-escalate the virus’ spread,” Finjan added.


The decision was also welcomed by President of the Jordan Association for Restaurants and Sweets Shops Owners Omar Awwad who estimated the losses endured by the sector in the past two weeks at JD20 million.


“I am glad to see the sector back on its feet, as the thousands of employees and shop owners did not deserve to be the only ones forced to close while the country is wide open,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone.


Awwad expressed hope that the sector would not close again soon.


Some citizens, although happy about the decision, are cautious about visiting restaurants and cafes again.


“As much as I have been waiting for this, the 1,700 cases registered yesterday were alarming. However, as someone who has nowhere to go out or see friends but in restaurants, the best choice is to choose places with the best health procedures,” said Kholoud Masri, a journalist, told The Jordan Times.


Other citizens opposed the reopening completely.


“The country should close down. I do not understand how the government chose to close everything when there were no more than 10 cases and decided to open when there are almost 2000!” tweeted Qais Bani Hasan, a teacher.


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