Facing the failure of the lockdown that started in Lebanon last week to curb the dangerous rapid increase in daily coronavirus (COVID-19) case numbers so far, the Higher Defense Council has declared a state of emergency that will last 11 days.
The new lockdown measures are more comprehensive than last week’s. They will be implemented starting Thursday, January 14th. It will remain in effect until Monday, January 25th, subject to extension, and include the closure of most sectors in Lebanon.
Transportation aboard private and public cars is prohibited throughout the specified period, with the exception of those headed to the airport (having a ticket is required) or to medical institutions (showing proof of employment at the institution is required).
The Higher Defense Council decided not to close the Beirut-Rafik Hariri International Airport, but it will be mandatory for arrivals to Lebanon to stay at a hotel for a full week.
However, the airport’s traffic will be reduced to 20% of the numbers of inbound passengers recorded in January 2020, provided that arrivals undergo immediate examination for COVID-19.
On the other hand, the Higher Defense Council decided that the passage of travelers through land and sea border crossings will be prohibited throughout the aforementioned period, with the exception of transit passengers carrying tickets bearing the date of transit.
The Council requested that the concerned ministers take additional measures to force private hospitals to allocate intensive-care-unit beds for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
It also requested that security forces and judicial authorities increase their strictness in enforcing the laws that penalize hospitals that refuse to take in emergency COVID-19 cases, as well as in enforcing the lockdown measures on the public.
All departments, public institutions, independent businesses, universities, public and private schools, nurseries, public parks, docks (corniches), public and private sports fields – both internal and external – in addition to the Casino du Liban, will be closed.
Additionally, it will be forbidden to hold public and private parties, social events, and gatherings of all kinds.
The decision comes as Lebanon enters what caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab called “a stage of extreme danger,” earlier on Monday, stressing that the government has a duty to protect the Lebanese from themselves, citing the “recklessness” shown by many citizens.
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