Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Lebanese authorities begin gradual easing of COVID-19 related restrictions as of April 28. Public transport , select businesses reopen.
This alert affects Lebanon
This alert began 28 Apr 2020 02:05 GMT and is scheduled to expire 28 May 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Event: COVID-related restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Through at least May 10
- Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security
Lebanese authorities have approved a phased easing of restrictions related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), through June 8. As of April 28, public transportation has resumed with safe-distancing measures and limit on the number of passengers. Select factories in the water and electricity sectors, retail shops, vegetable and meat markets, dairies, bakeries, carpenters, mechanics, and television production companies are permitted to operate. However, authorities have imposed restrictions on the hours of operation.
The next phases are as below:
- May 4: Restaurants, cafes, parks, hair salons, and remaining factories will be permitted to reopen.
- May 11: Nurseries, car dealerships, casinos, and institutions for people with special needs will be permitted to reopen.
- May 25: Schools, universities, malls, and shopping centers will be permitted to reopen.
- June 8: Tourist sites, gyms, entertainment venues, and places of worship will be permitted to reopen.
Lebanese authorities had previously extended the existing nationwide lockdown through May 10 and imposed a revised 2100-0500 curfew to combat the spread of COVID-19. Residents were only permitted to leave their homes to purchase necessities such as food and medicine, work in approved sectors, or seek medical or emergency assistance. Lebanese military and security forces were deployed in cities nationwide to enforce these measures. Operations at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY), regional airports, and all seaports remain suspended since March 18; the closure does not apply to UN, diplomatic, and cargo flights. Demonstrations and gatherings of any type remain banned. Banks have limited operating hours.
Lebanese authorities tightened nationwide vehicular travel restrictions 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.
Entry to and exit from the northern town of Bsharri remain prohibited since 0600 April 11 following a local surge in COVID-19 cases. 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 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.