Severity: Warning Alert
Exit/Entry: Authorities in Lebanon announce the isolation of the town of Chehour for three days from July 23 due to COVID-19 activity.
- Alert Begins: 24 Jul 2020 01:09 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 31 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions ongoing; increased security
Officials in Lebanon announced July 23, the decision to isolate the town of Chehour, located in the country's southern Tyre District, for three days following an increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Authorities will close places of worship, sports clubs, barbershops, cafes, and parks; however, they did not specify the precise start and end times for the measure. Authorities had previously imposed localized lockdowns in towns, including Majdal Anjar, Bar Elias, and Mazboud, following surges in COVID-19 cases in those areas. Authorities may impose additional lockdowns depending on the evolution of disease activity.
Authorities had been gradually easing restrictions as part of the nation's COVID-19 recovery plan:
- Officials lifted the nationwide nightly 2359-0500 curfew from July 1. Previously, businesses were only permitted to open between the hours of 0500-2359; they can now operate anytime.
- Commercial flights at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) resumed July 1, albeit with a reduced operating capacity of 10 percent compared to July 2019. Private flights to and from BEY resumed June 24. Passengers will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and notified of their test result within 24 hours. In the event of a positive test result, affected travelers will need to self-quarantine per instructions from the Ministry of Health. Nonresidents traveling to Lebanon are required to have a valid health insurance policy for the duration of their trip.
- Nightclubs, public parks, and flea markets reopened June 21.
- Government institutions and certain private companies, including various shops and stores, were permitted to resume normal operations from June 1.
- Authorities have lifted vehicular movement restrictions, and public transportation resumed nationwide, albeit with social distancing measures and passenger limits in place.
COVID-19 restrictions that remain in effect include:
- Authorities extended the existing medical state of emergency until Aug. 2.
- Residents are required to wear protective face coverings when in public.
- Demonstrations and gatherings of any type remain banned.
- Individuals and businesses that violate the country's social distancing and safety guidelines will face a fine.
- Restaurants and cafes may only operate at 50 percent capacity.
Background and Analysis
Lebanon's restrictions and preventive measures are similar to 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.
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.