Greater Amman Municipality employees sanitize cars at street amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread, outside al Husseini mosque in downtown Amman, Jordan, March 20, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Amman: Jordan announced a 48-hour sweeping nationwide curfew that would start from Thursday midnight, in a stepped-up bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the government spokesman said.

The government two weeks ago relaxed a tight curfew that allowed people to go on foot during day time to buy groceries to ease daily life for the nearly 10 million inhabitants.

Last Thursday, the kingdom imposed a 24-hour curfew to allow medical staff unimpeded entry to areas they suspect the virus is spreading in, a move which brought public life to a complete standstill.

Jordan's state finances will be deeply hurt by a loss of revenue caused by the impact of the coronavirus on its economy but the aid-dependant kingdom will be able to repay its foreign debt obligations, the finance minister said.

Mohammed Al Ississ said in remarks on state television that the government's 2020 budget priorities would also be affected by a steep fall in economic activity as a result of a lockdown ordered to stem the spread of the virus.

"As far as international and domestic (debt) obligations on Jordan and bonds, we have made all the arrangements to honour them when they become due," Al Ississ said.

The country's $42 billion public debt is equivalent to 97 percent of gross domestic product.

The crisis will not prompt the country to scale down public spending in its 9.8 billion dinars ($14 billion) budget for 2020, Al Ississ said, adding this would only accelerate the economic downturn.

But budget priorities would change with a focus on more social spending to ease hardships among low income Jordanians.

The kingdom, which imports almost all its energy needs, hopes however to capitalise on a drop in oil prices to reduce a 2 billion dinars ($2.8 billion) annual bill, Al Ississ said.