Lebanon imposes Easter curfew to slow COVID-19 spread

Today is the first day of Lebanon’s Easter weekend lockdown, implemented in an attempt to prevent a surge of COVID-19

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Photo: Bilal Hussein

Today is the first day of Lebanon’s Easter weekend lockdown, implemented in an attempt to prevent a surge of COVID-19 cases over the holiday period.

Lebanon has recorded 468,000 known cases and 6,234 known deaths out of a population of 6.8 million since the start of the pandemic. The country has been experiencing rising case numbers since easing social distancing restrictions in January, leading President Michel Amoun to extend public safety measures for another six months. Lebanon has suffered a serious economic crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic and the Beirut port explosion. Continued restrictions will exacerbate these economic problems in the short term as businesses remain closed or restricted, unable to stimulate economic growth.

While lifting restrictions may stimulate the economy, such actions pose a major risk to the country’s extremely fragile health sector in the medium-term with a new COVID-19 wave. The immediate future looks bleak as talks with the International Monetary Fund on an aid package have stalled due to political infighting over government reform, further delaying total economic recovery and compounding existing issues. The government remains stuck in a challenging dilemma of either protecting public health and safety or restarting activity in a shattered economy in desperate need of investment and reconstruction.

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