The Lebanese capital Beirut has turned into a large voluntary prison for its residents in an attempt to limit the spread of the Coronavirus after the government announced a state of "General Mobilization".
Patrols in Ashrafieh, Barbour, and Hamra confirm that people are abiding with the instructions to stay at home amid a total lock-down of most stores except for those selling groceries, which are not seeing many customers as the majority have resorted to having their groceries delivered to their homes.
The different precautionary measures adopted are being followed to different degrees in different regions. At the entrance to the Sabra and Shatila camps, traffic usual and people are still gathering on the street.
In Barbour, all stores are closed except for vegetable markets where people are taking no precautions. Their only concern is their day-to-day materials. One of them says: "If we work we eat if we don't we starve. There is no escaping from what God has written for us, with or without Corona".
According to surveys, only 15% of people are not abiding by the government's instructions, whether in Beirut or otherwise. Hisham, from the town of Ghazieh in South Lebanon, tells Asharq Al-Awsat that "90% of stores are closed. The municipality is raising awareness using 'friendly checkpoints' where participants maintain social distance wearing masks and carrying sanitizers and giving out pamphlets with precautionary measures to those who are without any protection".
Qantara, an activist in the popular movement tells us, "General Mobilization is not effective in ministries and public institutions. They need special procedures. The government is unable to meet the daily demands of people despite imposing a quarantine on them. It does not have what is needed to support their persistence. They ask us to help them but they don't help us back".
Ibrahim, who used to own a restaurant in Hamra Street, agrees, saying, "A state that respects itself provides compensation after announcing general mobilization".
Hiam al-Shami, a resident of Hamra Street, sees the General Mobilization as less of a precaution than those adopted in other countries.
She says that she "wanted to travel to Athens to meet my husband, but was told not to leave the house for 15 days if I were to travel. So I preferred to stay in Beirut where I could leave the house while taking the necessary precautions".
She adds: "Going around Hamra is sad, everything is closed. Even the American University of Beirut, which did not close its doors during every war in the region, is closed".
She admits that she has "foregone every luxury she was used to and is no longer shy to refuse to meet relatives and friends".