BEIRUT: The two-week lockdown in Lebanon to limit the spread of coronavirus ends on Sunday, but the continued high number of infections and deaths may limit the options of the government committee tasked with restoring normal life in the country.
On Saturday, owners of shops, stores, restaurants and cafes protested against measures that would keep their businesses closed, especially as the lucrative festive season approaches.
“If the state decides to continue closing our institutions during the festive season, these tourist establishments will declare their bankruptcy,” Jean Beirouti, secretary-general of the Federation of Tourism Trade Unions, told Arab News.
Darkness prevails in Beirut markets that are usually vibrant at this time of year. “Black Friday didn’t activate any commercial movement,” Yehya Kasaa, chairman of the Lebanese Franchise Association, told Arab News.
“We don’t know how long it will be possible to hold out if a good government isn’t formed. Politics in Lebanon is fighting the economy,” he said.
“Staying at home indeed provides safety for everyone, but in a country like Lebanon, which suffers economically, it’s impossible. People need to work and earn their daily living,” he added.
“The franchise sector used to provide work for 100,000 workers. Now half of them have lost their jobs due to the economic crisis. Moreover, the Beirut Port explosion destroyed 70 percent of the sector, especially in central Beirut, and these shops haven’t reopened yet.”
As of Saturday morning, there were more than 35,000 violations of the lockdown recorded by security forces.
“People are groaning from the difficult economic situation we’re in,” said Col. Joseph Mousallem, head of the Information Branch at the Internal Security Forces.
“The decline in the number of infections hoped by the Ministry of Health didn’t happen during the lockdown.”