Coronavirus in Jordan: chatting with our local expert

With just over eight hundred confirmed cases and only nine deaths, Jordan has acted swiftly and effectively to contain the coronavirus outbreak. We spoke to local expert Heba Shaheen to find out more.
 Ancient city of Petra, Jordan. Photo: kasakphoto/Shutterstock
Ancient city of Petra, Jordan. Photo: kasakphoto/Shutterstock

Having taken early and decisive action, Jordan began lifting its lockdown restrictions at the beginning of May. The beautiful country – defined by hauntingly beautiful desert sites like Petra – has captured travellers’ imaginations for centuries. We chatted with Heba Shaheen, our local travel expert based in the capital Amman, to learn more about life in the country during coronavirus, and what Jordanian travel might look like for the rest of the year. 

In conversation with Heba Shaheen

Q: Jordan's government has allowed businesses and public transport to return to normality. How have these changes been perceived by you and the population more widely?

A: For me personally, and for all Jordanians, we are very proud that the Jordanian government took quick and decisive action, closing borders and imposing a very strict lockdown when we had fewer than twenty cases confirmed in the country. As a result, our Ministry of Health was able to handle the situation very effectively by bolstering intensive care and producing test units – and making random scans each weekend for the last three months. As a result, we currently thank God that we only have 808 confirmed cases so far, with a total number of nine deaths and 607 cases of full recovery.

In comparison with many other countries, we are doing very well. As the numbers are low, our government has already loosened some of the lockdown restrictions, and a good number of businesses and companies returned to normality on 1 June 2020. In Amman, the situation is as promising as in the rest of the country. All Jordanians felt satisfied with the government’s actions and decisions, and all of our people are working side by side with the police and army to save this beloved country – that we will never let go down.

Now, we are allowed to go out to our offices and markets. Cafés and restaurants are also able to service customers again on a take-away basis. It is still necessary to wear and mask and gloves – these are easy to buy, along with other protective products.  

The Temple of Hercules, Amman Citadel, Amman, Jordan. Photo:  Maurizio De Mattei/Shutterstock

Q: International travel is still restricted. As a business relying on tourism, what are your hopes and aspirations for the industry when Jordan opens again? 

A: Our government is handling the situation carefully, and have announced an expected date for the opening of borders and the resumption of international flights, which might be between the middle and end of July. For now, this is only an estimation – implementation depends on whether the situation improves between now and then around the world. In the meantime, hotels have been operating again since June, and tourist sites have also reopened for local and domestic tourism only. We hope that our country will be able to welcome travellers back very soon.

Bedouin in the ruins of the old city of Petra in Jordan. Photo: Kate Spiridonova/Shutterstock

Q: When Jordan reopens its borders, which countries and markets do you think will be the first ones back?

A: Jordan will open its arms to all nationalities, except for possibly the most affected countries.


Q: Do you think travel in Jordan will change drastically? Will visits to Petra be more limited, for instance?

A: Of course! All the tourist sites, restaurants and other crowded places will be carefully managed, with limited numbers of visitors and visiting periods throughout the day. We expect there will be breaks between each timed visit in order to assure attractions are all clean and free of viruses.

View of Aqaba port, Jordan. Photo: NAPA/Shutterstock

Q: How did you as a company experience the crisis? Given you were all working from home, how were you able to stay in touch with your suppliers and co-workers? 

A: It was a great shock for us to leave our offices. Between one day and the next, we lost all our upcoming bookings – we went sadly to our homes,with no time to establish the necessary procedures to work from home. Thankfully,however, we managed to cope and implement those changes very quickly. We started to work remotely from our homes; though working from our offices is more fun and more active – especially when it comes to Zaman Tours, because we have a very friendly team and a boss who works hard to create a great atmosphere for our hard work in the field! 

In the meantime – and especially with Jordan working effectively to contain the virus – our team is working from home, keeping busy re-booking many of the trips cancelled by the outbreak, and also arranging new ones for the ending months of the year and the beginning of2021 as well. We have created a number of new measures and protocols to ensure hygiene standards are met and the safety of our client is protected before and during any trip, not forgetting well thought-out emergency procedures – should anything unexpected happen during a trip. 

River canyon of Wadi Mujib. Photo: Iuliia Khabibullina/Shutterstock

Q: Are there any positive news stories emanating from Jordan you can share? 

A: Those of us involved in the travel industry in Jordan have already started to create and adapt various products in light of the situation.On top of that, social distancing can be easily implemented in places such as Wadi Rum, and in the country’s ecolodges and reserves.There is plenty on offer! Personally, I can’t wait to resume working in tourism, to passionately help our precious country to show off its beauty and revive its economy… 

Heba Shaheen is one of more than 50 local experts that Insight Guides partners with worldwide to offer totally customizable, tailor-made trips. Our local experts take care of all the details before your trip, and on the ground while you're there, so that you don't have to. There's a 24/7 emergency phone number, too, so you can travel knowing that you'll be taken care of, whatever happens. Well, what are you waiting for? Start browsing our trips today.