Jordan partially closes borders with Israel, West Bank amid virus fears
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Jordan partially closes borders with Israel, West Bank amid virus fears

Jordanian workers still allowed to cross to Eilat and passage of goods to continue; crossings to Syria and Lebanon will shut as Hashemite Kingdom tries to stop coronavirus spread

The Allenby Crossing, the main route from the Palestinian West Bank into neighbouring Jordan, is pictured on March 10, 2020 after it was partially closed over coronavirus fear. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)
The Allenby Crossing, the main route from the Palestinian West Bank into neighbouring Jordan, is pictured on March 10, 2020 after it was partially closed over coronavirus fear. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Jordan said it would partially shut down its border crossings with Israel and the West Bank Tuesday as it attempts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Jordanian Cabinet also decided to close crossings to and from Lebanon and to halt traffic to and from Syria with the exception of trucks carrying goods.

Sea crossings to Egypt will also be closed.

The closures were made at the recommendation of Jordan’s health minister, Saad Jaber, who said the Kingdom would also bar entry to travelers coming from France, Germany and Spain.

The Yitzhak Rabin Border Terminal at the Wadi Araba crossing between Israel and Jordan. (CC BY 2.5, Wikipedia, NYC2TLV)

Jordan has already barred travelers from South Korea, Iran and Italy. It has so far confirmed just one case of the novel coronavirus in a traveler returning from Italy.

Amman would also “no longer allow Jordanians to visit” countries covered by the ban, Jaber said.

The Allenby Crossing, the main route from the Palestinian West Bank into neighboring Jordan, is pictured on March 10, 2020 after it was partially closed over coronavirus fear. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Jordan has three crossings with Israel, the Jordan River/Sheikh Hussein Crossing in the north, located between Beit She’an and Irbid in Jordan; the King Hussein Bridge, known in Israel as the Allenby Bridge, near Jericho, which connects the West Bank with Jordan; and the Yitzhak Rabin Terminal/Wadi Araba Crossing in the south, which connects Aqaba and Eilat.

Transport of goods and official delegations will be able to pass and Jordanian workers employed in Eilat, which is located directly across the border from the Jordanian city of Aqaba, will continue to be able to use the southern crossing. Those with permits enter Israel for work before returning to Jordan on a nightly basis.

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Defense Ministry body responsible for liaising with the Palestinians, announced earlier Tuesday that the Allenby crossing would be shut to travelers in both directions.

COGAT clarified that “local residents,” an apparent reference to Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem who are currently in Jordan, would be permitted to return to their homes, if they coordinate with authorities.

The Defense Ministry body also stated that Jordanians in “the area,” an apparent allusion to the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, would be allowed to go back to Jordan, if they arrange to do so with authorities.

“These preventive measures and action have been undertaken in an effort to protect the health and welfare of the public,” it said.

A spokeswoman for COGAT said that the passage of goods between Jordan and the West Bank through Allenby would continue unimpeded.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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