Lebanon opens its airport, but will accept only 2,000 travelers per day

Passengers will conduct a PCR upon their arrival at the Rafik Hariri International Airport “at the airline’s expense.” (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 June 2020

Lebanon opens its airport, but will accept only 2,000 travelers per day

  • Sri Lanka evacuates 167 of its nationals, but 25,000 remain in Lebanon

BEIRUT: Lebanon is preparing to reopen the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut on July 1 for the first time in more than three months.

It is reducing the number of flights from countries where the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for the virus is not available to passengers to 20 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Flights from countries that do have the test will be at 80 percent of previous levels.

A source at Lebanese Middle East Airlines (MEA) said that “not many reservations have been made by Lebanese to leave Lebanon when the airport opens. Europe is still closed to the Lebanese, as are the Gulf states. The only countries that are accepting flights from Lebanon are Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. Spain may soon do so. Lebanese who hold Schengen visas are not allowed to enter European countries.”

The source said: “Beirut airport will not accept more than 2,000 passengers per day.”

Face masks will be mandatory for passengers and aircrews inside the terminal and on the plane. All travelers are required to bring with them a sufficient number of masks to use and to change them every four hours. They must also bring their own hand sanitizer.

The Minister of Health, Hamad Hassan, said that “the criterion is no longer the number of COVID-19 infections. Rather, it is the gradual societal immunity. The country was opened because the economic situation is deteriorating and we will gain societal immunity.”

The MEA announced the conditions set by the Lebanese authorities for travelers entering Lebanon. One is that travelers coming from countries that have PCR tests should take the test in laboratories licensed by the local authorities at most four days before the departure date, and must show the result of the test at check-in counters. Travelers will have to take another PCR test, at the expense of the airline, on their arrival at Beirut airport.

Travelers who come from countries where PCR tests are not available will take a PCR test on arrival at Beirut airport at the expense of the airline. They must take a second PCR test after 72 hours at their own expense.

Travelers coming to Lebanon must possess a health insurance policy that is valid for the duration of their stay, covering all costs of treatment for COVID-19 on Lebanese soil. Lebanese nationals must also have insurance but enjoy the right to medical treatment in their country.

Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Lebanon, Shani Calyaneratne, has announced that 167 Sri Lankan nationals are being evacuated by plane from Lebanon today, leaving “about 25,000 workers who came in the 1980s, 1990s and the beginning of this century and wish to stay will remain in Lebanon as long as the employers approve this.”

France’s Macron to host donor conference for blast-stricken Lebanon

Updated 11 sec ago

France’s Macron to host donor conference for blast-stricken Lebanon

  • Rebuilding Beirut could run into the billions of dollars
  • Economists forecast the blast could wipe up to 25% off of the country’s GDP

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron will host US President Donald Trump and other political leaders on Sunday for a UN-endorsed donors’ conference by video to raise emergency relief for Lebanon following this week’s massive explosion in Beirut.
Lebanon was already mired in deep political and economic crisis when the blast ripped through its main port on Tuesday, killing 158 people, injuring more than 6,000 and destroying a swathe of the city.
Rebuilding Beirut could run into the billions of dollars. Economists forecast the blast could wipe up to 25% off of the country’s GDP.
Many Lebanese are angry at the government’s response and say the disaster highlighted the negligence of a corrupt political elite. Protesters stormed government ministries in Beirut and trashed the offices of the Association of Lebanese Banks on Saturday.
Macron visited Beirut on Thursday, the first world leader to do so after the explosion, and promised the Lebanese people humanitarian aid would come but that profound political reform was needed to resolve the country’s problems and secure longer term support.
“I guarantee you, this (reconstruction) aid will not go to corrupt hands,” Macron told the throngs who greeted him.
There has been an outpouring of sympathy for Lebanon from around the world this week and many countries have sent immediate humanitarian support such as a medical supplies, but there has been an absence of aid commitments so far.
Trump will participate in the video-link conference.
“Everyone wants to help!” he tweeted.
Germany will commit an additional 10 million euros ($11.79 million) in emergency aid on top of the rescue contributions already underway, its foreign minister said.
A Macron aide declined on Saturday to set a target for the conference. Emergency aid was needed for reconstruction, food aid, medical equipment and schools and hospitals, the official said.
Representatives of Britain, the European Union, China, Russia, Egypt and Jordan are expected to join the conference, hosted by Macron from his summer retreat on the French Riviera. Israel and Iran will not take part, the Elysee Palace official said. ($1 = 0.8485 euros)