Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Lebanon extends nationwide lockdown through at least April 26 due to COVID-19 activity. Additional restrictions possible.

This alert affects Lebanon

This alert began 09 Apr 2020 17:17 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 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 extended the existing nationwide lockdown through at least April 26 to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). A nightly 1900-0500 curfew remains in effect since March 26. Only mills, bakeries, pharmacies, and producers of medical supplies are permitted to operate during this time. The lockdown was initially announced 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 the lockdown, 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.

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