Beirut’s Sabra Market Defies Lockdown & Opens To Shoppers

Houssam Shbaro

Beirut’s local Sabra market teamed up with shoppers this week, some of them unmasked, in defiance of a full national lockdown imposed on Saturday by the caretaker government to curb the increasing cases of coronavirus infections.

“This doesn’t work. As you can see, people are still on the streets. The authorities should have, from the beginning, followed a certain plan that doesn’t harm the economy and goes along with our situation because we’re special in Lebanon,” taxi driver Mahdi Msheik told Reuters Television.

REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

“Besides the coronavirus, we have another crisis, the bank crisis. You can’t completely shut down because, if you do, there are people who work on a daily basis, what do you do with them?” Msheik added.

After city streets and roads emptied on Sunday, pedestrians were back on Monday and some motorists could be seen refusing to obey the re-imposed odd-even license plate alternate day driving rule.

“More people are not complying and have no masks. This is wrong, especially in a popular market,” said Mohammed Noureddine as he shopped at Sabra market.

REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Lebanon reported 1,016 new infections on Monday, bringing its total to 106,446 cases and 827 deaths since February 21st.

The Lebanese government ordered the two-week restrictions, including a 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, as new daily infections rose above 1,000.

“There’s no lockdown in Sabra. Go see the highways, no odd or even car plates, everyone’s out,” Rami Fathalla, a beauty salon worker told Reuters.

Apparently, there isn’t a lockdown either in various areas across Lebanon, according to local reports, like in the souks of Baalbek, Sidon, Tripoli, and Nabatieh.

Reuters

Unlike other countries implementing lockdown measures, financially-crippled Lebanon doesn’t provide an allowance to its people to help them sustain themselves and their families. They are having no other choice but to defy this new 2-week-long full-lockdown to ensure their basic needs.

The authorities are, however, seeking to enforce the lockdown measures, setting checkpoints on highways, closing these markets, and fining people and businesses. 7000 fines were issued during the weekend at the start of the lockdown, and that number has increased since then.

Controversially, the Interior Minister announced on Tuesday that the lockdown could be eased off starting Friday as it is expected, somehow, that infections will start decreasing then onward.

Get the latest news and updates about the coronavirus outbreak in Lebanon along with a live monitor of cases in Lebanon as well as resources and information to help you guide the outbreak on our dedicated coronavirus page.