The first day of the reopening of the Beirut-Rafik Hariri International Airport witnessed a conflict between the airport’s security personnel and journalists who were covering the procedures of the reopening.
After local media agencies were invited by officials to cover airport activity on the 1st of July, they were later kicked out of the area where PCR tests were being conducted.
This was the result of a conflict with airport security, which deemed the heavy presence of the media intrusive and disrespectful towards the privacy and peace of mind of the exhausted arrivals.
Speaking to LBCI at the scene, Director of the Airport Security Service General George Doumit said, “Passengers are complaining and annoyed about the infringement of their privacy during PCR tests.”
“There is no time to conduct interviews with people, in line, one after the other,” he noted.
“We said that interviews [with travelers] are prohibited, and journalists have created chaos and we have asked them to withdraw because the traveler’s comfort is our duty.”
The reporter told General Doumit that loud yelling was heard before the reporters and cameramen were made to leave the testing area.
She added that some media people were beaten by the security forces, which Doumit initially denied before reiterating that the media presence created chaos in the airport.
In turn, Minister of Public Works and Transport Michel Najjar admitted that it is normal to have errors on the first day of reopening, and urged journalists to remain calm and civil, and focus on the positives.
Notably, the majority of the passengers who arrived in Beirut on Wednesday told reporters that they were residents of their countries of departure and only came to Lebanon to spend time with their families and friends.
The ongoing flow of tourists and expatriates is expected to give the collapsing economy a positive shock amid a rapid depreciation of the Lebanese pound against the dollar and a proportional deterioration of the country’s living conditions.