AMMAN (Reuters) – Jordan’s interior and justice ministers were fired on Sunday for attending a dinner party at a restaurant that violated the coronavirus restrictions that their own ministries are supposed to enforce.
Prime Minister Bisher al Khasawneh accepted the resignation of Interior Minister Samir Mobeideen and Justice Minister Bassam Talhouni, days after the announcement of new rules intended to stem a month-old surge of infections driven by a more contagious variant of the virus.
Their appearance in a public banqueting room, disregarding social distancing rules, added to widespread outrage at the hefty fines slapped on ordinary people while officials go unpunished for attending functions with far more than the 20 guests allowed.
Police have arrested dozens of people for breaking stay-at-home orders in recent weeks and shut hundreds of shops and businesses in one of the toughest crackdowns in a year of lockdowns and restrictions.
The government has also deployed more military personnel at hundreds of checkpoints to enforce last Thursday’s decision to bring forward a curfew from midnight to 10 p.m.
Officials say the latest wave of infections has been driven by people flouting restrictions on movement.
Under the new rules, anyone not wearing a face mask in public can be fined up to 100 dinars ($140), a punitive sum in a relatively poor country where the pandemic has pushed unemployment to record levels.
The kingdom, with a population of around 10 million, has recorded 380,268 coronavirus infections and 4,627 deaths.
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Kevin Liffey)