Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Lebanon ease COVID-19 restrictions and amend nightly curfew hours from June 1. Other restrictions to remain in place.

This alert affects Lebanon

This alert began 31 May 2020 21:13 GMT and is scheduled to expire 16 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

Summary
Authorities in Lebanon are planning to ease a series of restrictions related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) beginning June 1. The original 1900-0500 curfew will be scaled back by five hours and replaced with nightly curfew hours of 2359-0500 effective June 1. Military and security forces remain deployed in cities nationwide to enforce the curfew. Government institutions and certain private companies, including various shops and stores, can return to normal operations from June 1; however, restaurants, cafes, shopping malls, casinos, swimming pools, beaches, and museums can only operate between the hours of 0500-2359. Moreover, restaurants and cafes may only operate at 50 percent capacity.

The Public Works Ministry stated May 31 that Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) would likely resume operations June 21. Operations at BEY, regional airports, and all seaports have been suspended since March 18; the closures do not apply to diplomatic, cargo, and repatriation flights.

Restrictions that will remain in effect until further notice include:

  • Demonstrations and gatherings of any type remain banned.
  • Gyms, public parks, night clubs, and daycare centers will remain closed until further notice.
  • Residents are required to wear protective face coverings when in public. Individuals and businesses that violate the country's social distancing and safety guidelines will face a fine.
  • The towns of Majdal Anjar and Bar Elias in the Beqa'a Valley, as well as Mazboud in the Chouf district, remain closed after a surge in COVID-19 cases were recorded in those areas. Residents are only permitted to leave their homes to obtain food and medicine. All nonessential businesses are closed, and travel in and out of the towns is restricted. It remains unclear how long the restrictions will be in place.
  • 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. All 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.


Lebanese authorities 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 has resumed, with social-distancing measures and passenger limits in place. Various businesses including restaurants, factories, hair salons, retail shops, and food markets have been permitted to reopen at reduced capacity and with restrictions on their hours of operation. Tourist sites, gyms, entertainment venues, and places of worship are reportedly slated to reopen beginning June 8.

Authorities may reimpose restrictions in the coming weeks depending on the evolution of disease activity. Lebanese authorities previously re-imposed a nationwide curfew in mid-May due to an increase in COVID-19 cases after the government began to gradually ease restrictions. During that lockdown, residents were only permitted to leave their homes for essential needs, such as purchasing food and medicine or seeking medical assistance.

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.

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.


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