Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Lebanon extends existing nationwide lockdown through May 10 due to coronavirus activity; nightly curfew shortened.

This alert affects Lebanon

This alert began 24 Apr 2020 21:12 GMT and is scheduled to expire 11 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

Summary
Lebanese authorities extended the existing nationwide lockdown through May 10 as part of the country's efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities have also shortened the country's nightly curfew by one hour to run 2100-0500, rather than the previous 2000-0500 curfew time frame. Despite the lockdown extension, Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced April 24 that the government plans to gradually lift COVID-19 restrictions and reopen businesses in the coming weeks. The restrictions will be eased in five phases beginning April 27; however, the government has as yet not released specific details of the plan.

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. Lebanese 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 have been suspended since March 18; the closure does not apply to UN, diplomatic, and cargo flights. Demonstrations and gatherings of any type have been banned, and schools have been closed 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.

Entry to and exit from the northern town of Bsharri has been 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.

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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