Lebanon has declared a nighttime curfew for the unvaccinated ahead and during the holiday seasons. Its health minister on Wednesday called it one of the measures to stem a recent rise in coronavirus infections and a precaution against the new variant.
Lebanon has not recorded any infections with Omicron, but the small country enduring a severe financial crisis is concerned its health care system won’t be handle a new peak of infections.
Lebanon’s Health Minister Firass Abiad said the COVID committee wants to avoid imposing a full lockdown and hopes to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
The new measures make it obligatory for public servants, security, military, health, education and tourism sectors workers to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 10 or get a PCR test at their own expense twice a week. Otherwise, they risk losing their jobs, Abiad said.
Lebanon has witnessed a 34% increase in recorded infections in the past week, with an average of over 1,000 infections daily. A country of nearly 6 million, Lebanon documented around 670,000 infections and nearly 9,000 deaths since 2020.
More than 2 million people have received at least one jab. Last winter, hospitals suffered from shortages of supplies, oxygen and because of migration of health workers. Repeated lockdowns were harshly criticized, mostly ignored, amid a severe economic crisis.
Abiad said the curfew would run every night from 1900 to 0600 starting Dec. 17 at 1900 and until January 9 for those who don’t have at least one jab of the vaccine or a PCR test not older than 48 hours. Penalties for violators will be announced later, he said.
The new measures require venues and restaurants to operate at only 50% capacity and require restaurant or hotel goers to produce a vaccination certificate or a new PCR starting Dec. 10.