BEIRUT: Lebanese army helicopters this week began dropping leaflets over city neighborhoods warning residents to observe the lockdown, which includes a 5 p.m. evening curfew.
“Remain quarantined at home, COVID-19 is no joke,” the flyers read.
Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the lockdown will last until the end of the month.
“We have reached a critical period regarding the spread of the virus and are left with no alternative,” he said.
Lebanon has recorded up to 1,000 daily infections since Saturday. More than 106,440 cases have been reported since the outbreak began in February, while the death toll now stands at 827.
“More time is needed to study the results of the lockdown. We will reevaluate the lockdown decision on Friday in order to allow more sectors to resume their activities,” Mohammed Fahmy, interior minister in the caretaker government, said.
The rate of compliance with the ministry’s health directives stood at 85 percent, he added.
Fahmy urged private companies and businesses to develop work schedules that will allow employees to return to their homes without risking fines.
Security patrols have issued more than 10,000 penalties for violation of lockdown rules since the outbreak began. Breaches included opening shops not included in the exemptions, failure to wear a face mask, and ignoring the night curfew and odd/even number plate rules.
Concerning the rate of COVID-19 in jails, Fahmy said that “three weeks ago, more than 500 prisoners were infected, but today there are only 69 cases, one of whom has had to be hospitalized.”
Security forces also issued a warning following the discovery of large numbers of fake press passes produced by drivers during the curfew.
Many of the forgeries claimed to be linked to bogus electronic news sites.
A security source told Arab News that “the holders of these passes were not media, which are excluded from the lockdown.”
Security forces have detained a person believed to have issued dozens of fake press passes in exchange for money.
“The arrested person has previously obtained passes for dozens of electronic news sites over the years,” Joseph Al-Qusaifi, the Lebanese Press Syndicate chief, said.
Lebanon’s Ministry of information also warned people against “trying to outsmart the government,” saying the bogus passes put the health of the community at risk.
“Anyone who tries to use the media message to impersonate or falsify documents relating to journalists so as to facilitate their movement during the lockdown will be subject to fines and jail sentences,” the ministry said.
Security forces also raided a shop on Beirut’s southern outskirts believed to be selling adulterated cleaning and sterilization products.