On Saturday morning my usual alarm clock shrill was replaced by the wailing sound of city-wide sirens around 7am, signalling the start of a mandatory confinement order. Anyone who chose to leave their home from that point would face jail. No more popping around to friends’, no more walks for the dogs, even putting your rubbish in the street bin would be a violation of the order if not done at certain times. No other country outside of China has implemented such stringent measures as yet.
Pretty intense, right? Coupled with the grey skies and an uncharacteristic quietness in the neighbourhood, it was a heavy morning to emerge from. It felt as though we’d woken up in some sort of dystopian world, all normality flung far out of the window. It was both unnerving and exciting.
Myself and a couple of friends had been self-isolating for a few days already, so we met for a final ‘end of the world’ hang out the evening before. We ate Francesco’s delicious food, drank copious amounts of booze, giggled a lot and then did a few farewell shots of tequila before departing at midnight.
We’re now into day four of the curfew. Two nights ago, the government retracted its plan to temporarily lift the order in some way today to allow people to re-stock food and essential supplies. Instead, it announced the confinement order would remain in place for a minimum of three weeks – cue a mad scramble by the authorities to establish some sort of home delivery system instead. Friends howled with disdain at the extended home-imprisonment period over WhatsApp group conversations and I think we all felt a moment of panic about food and phone data supplies. I allowed myself a reassuring peruse of the fridge, taking great comfort in my gin stash.
Today, water and medicine will be delivered somehow. As will bread via public buses, interestingly. On Thursday, residents will be able to receive cigarette deliveries – unexpected prioritising I hear you say. Well, Jordan has one of the highest rates of smokers in the world and if there’s a lack of both food and smokes here I can imagine it leading to total bedlam and probably increased rates of domestic violence – I kid you not. The government is currently trying to pull delivery companies together to get fruit, vegetables and meat out later in the week. It’s an unprecedented situation and it’s fascinating to watch it unfold.
I discovered a small home gym set up on my communal rooftop last night so, with work out of the way for the moment and some much-welcomed sunshine, I’m going to spend my afternoon working on that ‘summer bod’, ready to emerge a new and improved version of myself at the end of this lockdown – I’m already contemplating sunbathing instead.
As the sun set at the end of that first day of confinement, residents right across Amman took to their windows, doorways and rooftops and, in a show of solidarity, began flashing lights, blasting airhorns, banging drums, and even setting off fireworks. It lasted for a couple of hours and was an impressive sight. It’s continued for the last two evenings – it will be interesting to see how long that community spirit endures.