Lebanon imposes curfew on unvaccinated people over Christmas period


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Lebanese health authorities will impose a curfew on unvaccinated people during the upcoming holiday period as concerns grow over a new wave of coronavirus caused by the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

Lebanon has yet to register a case of Omicron, but fears the virus could spread in the cash-strapped country has prompted authorities to take preventative measures.

From December 17 to January 9, 2022, the unvaccinated will have to provide a negative PCR test dated within 48 hours to travel from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Health Minister Firass Abiad said the new measures aim to limit socialization as Lebanese expatriates flood their homes for the holiday season, while sparing the country’s struggling economy after two years of financial collapse. He did not say how people would prove their PCR test status, or what penalties could be imposed on those who flout the new rules.

“Most of the evening activities are social in nature anyway, we don’t want to put the whole country on hold,” he told a press conference.

Starting January 10, all medical, education, tourism and public sector workers, including the military and security forces, must be fully immunized to go to work. Unvaccinated personnel should provide a negative PCR test result twice a week at their own expense.

Schools and universities will be closed from December 16 to January 9, 2022.

All tourist establishments, restaurants and hotels will refuse entry to customers who cannot provide proof of vaccination or negative PCR test results as of December 10, 2021.

Parties and gatherings should be limited to 50% of their capacity. Those organizing events with more than 100 guests must request permission from the Ministry of Tourism to continue.

Mr Abiad ran Lebanon’s largest hospital before becoming a minister and has often warned of the hardships Lebanese hospitals face due to economic hardship.

Lebanese hospitals were once some of the best in the Middle East, but after two years of economic collapse, the medical sector is struggling.

Power cuts and drug shortages and the exodus of highly trained medical staff have weighed on Lebanese hospitals, raising concerns over their ability to handle a new wave of Covid-19.

The variant first spotted in South Africa has now spread and scientists fear the vaccines may not be as effective for Omicron.

Passengers arriving at Beirut airport from December 10, 2021 will need to obtain a pass from the Ministry of Public Health before boarding their flights.

Fully vaccinated travelers are exempt from having a PCR test. Others must pass a test before boarding the plane and upon arrival.

Updated: December 1, 2021, 6:35 PM


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