BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon reimposed severe COVID-19 restrictions on Monday for the next two weeks, shutting places of worship, cinemas, bars, nightclubs, sports events and popular markets, after a sharp rise in infections.
Shops, private companies, banks and educational institutions would be permitted to open, but only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with a near total lockdown in place Thursday through Monday until Aug 10. This week’s lockdown coincides with the Eid al-Adha holiday when Muslims normally hold large gatherings.
Officials said they were alarmed by a spike in cases in recent days, with at least 132 new infections and eight deaths confirmed in the last 24 hours. Lebanon has recorded just 51 deaths from the coronavirus since February.
”We have to go back a step back and work with determination as though the pandemic has now begun,” Minister of Health Hamad Hassan was quoted in state media as saying. “We have to work more seriously to avoid a medical humanitarian catastrophe.”
Beirut’s airport, land border crossings with Syria and sea ports would be kept open, as well as medical institutions, industrial and agricultural firms and critical government functions.
Those arriving from high risk countries would be held in quarantine for 48 hours until they receive the results of a coronavirus test. Those arriving from other areas would be expected to quarantine at home.
(Reporting by Beirut newsroom; Writing by Suleiman Al-Khalidi)