Jordan reopens major border crossing with Syria to truck traffic

The Jaber-Nassib crossing has reopened for the first time since it was closed in August.

al-monitor Vehicles wait to cross into Syria at the recently reopened Jaber-Nassib border post in Daraa province at the Syrian-Jordanian border south of Damascus on Nov. 7, 2018. Photo by LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty Images.

Sep 28, 2020

After the coronavirus forced Jordan to close its border crossing with Syria for more than a month, the government announced its reopening to truck traffic on Sunday.

Jordan closed all of its land crossings to travelers in March, keeping the borders open only for trade. But after truck drivers entering Jordan from Syria were blamed for an uptick in COVID-19 cases, the Jordanian government sealed off the Jaber-Nassib crossing entirely in mid-August. 

The Jaber-Nassib crossing is a key transit point for goods flowing from Lebanon and Syria to Gulf countries. The president of the Jordanian Truck Owners Association, Mohammad al Daoud, told Reuters the closure caused millions of dollars in losses.

The crossing opened Sunday under new social distancing and health protocols for drivers, the director of Roads Department at the Ministry of Public Works and Housing told Jordanian outlet Roya News. 

On Monday, Syrian state news agency SANA quoted a Syrian transportation official as saying that 65 trucks carrying fruits and vegetables had entered Jordan. 

The crossing reopened as Jordan grapples with a surge of new COVID-19 cases. In one of its highest yet case counts, Jordan’s Ministry of Health announced 734 new coronavirus infections and six deaths on Monday. 

The country of 10 million has registered more than 9,000 cases since March. Earlier this month, the United Nations refugee agency confirmed the virus was detected for the first time among Syrians living in Jordan’s underserved and overcrowded refugee camps.  

Having imposed some of the world’s harshest coronavirus restrictions in March, Jordan has fared better than its neighbors. Officials have said they hope to avoid reimposing the nationwide lockdown and military-enforced, round-the-clock curfew, which kept the virus in check but strained Jordan's fragile economy.

To mitigate the spread of the virus, the Jordanian government closed mosques, churches and restaurants in mid-September and switched most classrooms to online learning. Officials also suspended hospital visits and banned weddings, funerals and other social gatherings of more than 20 people. 

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