Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Lebanese authorities announce nationwide curfew 1900 May 13-0500 May 18 due to increase in COVID-19 activity.
This alert affects Lebanon
This alert began 12 May 2020 21:50 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Event: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Through at least May 24
- Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security
Lebanese authorities plan to impose a nationwide curfew from 1900 May 13 until 0500 May 18 due to a recent increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases after the government began to gradually ease restrictions. During the lockdown, residents will only be permitted to leave their homes for essential needs, such as purchasing food and medicine, or seeking medical assistance. All non-essential businesses will be closed. Teams from the Ministry of Health plan to conduct additional testing in the coming days.
Lebanese authorities had previously approved a phased easing of COVID-19-related restrictions from April 27 through June 8 to allow for the gradual resumption of economic activities. Public transportation had resumed with safe-distancing measures and passenger limits. Restaurants, cafes, factories, parks, hair salons, retail shops, food markets, carpenters, mechanics, and television production companies were permitted to reopen at reduced capacity with restrictions on their hours of operation. Additionally, authorities planned to reopen schools, universities, malls, and shopping centers beginning May 25, followed by tourist sites, gyms, entertainment venues, and places of worship beginning June 8. The government now plans to re-evaluate these proposed reopenings in view of the upswing in disease activity.
The existing nationwide lockdown remains in effect through at least May 24. A nightly 1900-0500 curfew is in effect as of May 10, and nonessential travel is banned nationwide; previously the curfew was in effect 2100-0500. Military and security forces have deployed in cities nationwide to enforce these measures. Operations at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY), regional airports, and all seaports remain suspended; the closure does not apply to UN, diplomatic, and cargo flights. Demonstrations and gatherings of any type remain banned. Banks have limited operating hours.
Vehicular travel restrictions remain in place nationwide until further notice. 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.
Background and Analysis
Lebanon's travel 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.