Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Lebanese authorities amend nationwide nightly curfew to 2000-0500 effective April 19 amid restrictions to stem spread of COVID-19.

This alert affects Lebanon

This alert began 20 Apr 2020 20:19 GMT and is scheduled to expire 20 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: COVID-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least April 26
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

Summary
Lebanese authorities amended the nationwide nightly curfew to 2000-0500 beginning April 19. Authorities initially implemented a nightly 1900-0500 curfew March 26 amid nationwide restrictions intended to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19); the restrictions remain in effect through at least April 26. Restrictions began March 15 after President Michel Aoun declared a medical state of emergency. Lebanese military and security forces have deployed in cities nationwide to enforce these measures.

Under current restrictions, all nonessential businesses have been closed, and residents are only permitted to leave their homes to purchase necessities such as food and medicine, work in vital sectors, or seek medical or emergency assistance. Authorities shut down operations at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY), regional airports, and all seaports starting March 18. The restrictions do not apply to UN, diplomatic, and cargo flights. Demonstrations and gatherings of any type have been barred, and schools have been suspended nationwide. Banks have limited operating hours.

Lebanese authorities tightened nationwide vehicular travel restrictions as of April 5. Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers may be driven on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; the use of vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers or zero is restricted to Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. No vehicles may be driven on Sundays. Diplomatic, military, and security vehicles are exempt from the measure, as are vehicles used by employees of essential institutions, such as medical personnel and journalists. Authorities previously banned all nonessential travel nationwide. It remains unclear how long the vehicular movement restrictions will be in effect.

Lebanese authorities have prohibited entry to and exit from the northern town of Bsharri from 0600 April 11 following a surge in COVID-19 cases in the town. It remains unclear how long the restriction will remain in effect. Authorities could announce additional requirements and restrictions based on disease activity throughout the country.

Background and Analysis
Lebanon's travel restrictions and preventive measures correspond with similar actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization: www.who.int