Life gradually returns to Lebanon in parallel with societal immunity

Volunteers sort boxes with food for distribution to people in need in Beirut, Lebanon amid safety measures to contain the coronavirus crisis. (Reuters)
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Updated 02 June 2020

Life gradually returns to Lebanon in parallel with societal immunity

  • Beirut airport is in the process of being evaluated, may resume work after 14 days

BEIRUT: Having entered the stage of “gradual societal immunity,” according to the Minister of Health Hamad Hassan, Lebanon’s commercial complexes, hotels, cafes and museums reopened their doors to customers on Monday after closing for two-and-a-half months due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

People and employees underwent complete sanitization when entering malls, and adhered to putting face masks on in the street and in their cars, buses, shops and offices.
However, the movement remained slow. The streets did not witness major traffic jams, due to the new system of allocating days to drivers whose car license plates end in odd and even numbers on a rotating basis.
According to the decision of the Ministry of Interior, places still excluded from reopening are cinemas, theaters, assembly and wedding halls, gyms, nurseries, children’s entertainment spaces, and electronic game arcades and internet centers. The curfew hours also decreased; they are now from midnight to 5 a.m.
Shops in many markets seemed empty and closed, while some owners replaced their usual goods with others, with fruit and vegetables most popular.
Information International, an independent research and statistics institution in Lebanon, warned a few days ago: “The closure of some restaurants, hotels and tourist institutions due to the inability to bear the high costs and the decrease in incomes may affect about 50,000 workers.
“Moreover, the closure of some small businesses that sell clothes, shoes and nonessential goods due to a decrease in sales due to high prices, resulting from the high exchange rate of the dollar against the Lebanese pound, may affect 20,000 to 25,000 workers.”
An official working in the office of Health Minister Hamad Hassan told Arab News: “The date for the reopening of Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut is subject to an evaluation meeting.
“The airport is currently continuing the process of returning Lebanese people stranded abroad, who return via private planes or planes belonging to non-Lebanese companies that have permission to land in Lebanon to evacuate citizens of other countries to their homelands.”

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The Ministry of Health’s daily report recorded 13 new confirmed cases on Monday, which raised the cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in Lebanon to 1,233 cases.

The airport will be closed completely after two days for a further 14 days to assess the current situation and, based on this assessment, the government committee tasked with following up on the issue of coronavirus and putting preventive measures in place will make its recommendation regarding opening the airport fully to commercial air traffic,” the official added.
On Sunday, Michel Najjar, the minister of public works and transportation, hinted that the airport could be opened on the 21st of this month, but the official in the Minister of Health’s office told Arab News: “We will wait 14 days, and the decision may be to fully open the airport before this 21st, and we may not resume returning Lebanese citizens from abroad. The whole matter is related to the evaluation process currently taking place, and it can be said that Lebanon’s situation is comfortable and does not cause concern.”
The Ministry of Health’s daily report recorded 13 new confirmed cases on Monday, which raised the cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in Lebanon to 1,233 cases.
The death of one COVID-19 patient was recorded on Sunday, raising the total number of deaths in Lebanon to 27. The total number of those who have recovered from the disease reached 715 people.
Groups of young people protesting against the economic situation and corruption violated the curfew in Beirut on Sunday evening, and organized demonstrations in the vicinity of the presidential palace, parliament and in front of the homes of some government ministers.
Other groups organized protests in the city of Tripoli. Some protesters burned pictures of President Michel Aoun after several others were arrested. The protests were eventually dispersed bu the security services.


El-Sisi says Egypt will not stand idle to threat to Egyptian and Libyan security

Updated 28 min 58 sec ago

El-Sisi says Egypt will not stand idle to threat to Egyptian and Libyan security

  • Libyan tribal leaders flew on Wednesday to Cairo from the eastern city of Benghazi for a meeting with El-Sisi
  • El-Sisi said at the meeting Egypt’s main goal in Libya was to “activate the free will of the Libyan people”

CAIRO: Egypt will not stand idle in the face of any moves that pose a direct threat to Egyptian and Libyan national security, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Thursday, according to a presidency statement.
The statement also said tribal leaders meeting El-Sisi in Cairo had authorized the president and Egypt's army to intervene in their country "to protect Libyan sovereignty".
El-Sisi met mainly eastern Libyan tribesmen in a show of solidarity on Thursday, days after Libya’s eastern-based parliament urged Cairo to intervene in their country’s civil war.
The meeting reflects the growing regional stakes in Libya, divided since 2014 between areas held by the government in Tripoli, backed by Turkey, and a rival eastern administration, backed by the UAE, Russia and Egypt.
On Tuesday, the eastern-based parliament allied to commander Haftar Khalifa called for Egypt to help counter Turkish support for Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.
Turkey has helped the Tripoli administration force Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) to abandon an offensive on Tripoli.


Any major escalation could risk igniting a direct conflict in Libya among the foreign powers that have already poured in weapons and fighters in violation of an arms embargo.
In response to Turkish actions, El-Sisi last month warned that Egypt’s army might enter Libya if the Tripoli government and its Turkish allies renewed an assault on Sirte, a central coastal city seen as the gateway to Libya’s main oil export terminals.
Libyan tribal leaders flew on Wednesday to Cairo from the eastern city of Benghazi, the main LNA base, for a meeting with El-Sisi entitled “Egypt and Libya, one people, one fate.” Haftar enjoys the backing of tribes mainly from east but also former LNA strongholds like Tarhouna in western Libya.
On the flight some tribesmen were chanting “El-Sisi” and “Haftar,” a video posted online showed.
El-Sisi said at the meeting Egypt’s main goal in Libya was to “activate the free will of the Libyan people,” a presidency statement said. It also published pictures showing El-Sisi sitting next to tribal leaders, all wearing masks against coronavirus.
In June El-Sisi said Egypt could act militarily in Egypt either if the House of Representatives requested this, or simply based on the UN charter of a right of self-defense.
Eastern tribes and other factions allied to Haftar have also been involved in closure of oil ports since January. The LNA says the tribes act on their own but analysts say their activity in Haftar-controlled territory is coordinated with the LNA.
Sirte is held by the LNA and the last major western city before the historic dividing line with the east, now controlled by Haftar, two regions that were united with the south at Libya’s independence in 1951.