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Lebanon Backtracks on Coronavirus Reboot with 4-Day Lockdown

The Lebanese government has declared a full shutdown of the country for four days starting Wednesday evening after a sudden climb in new coronavirus cases accompanied a partial relaxation of closures. Health authorities in Beirut reported 11 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the nation’s total infections during the pandemic to 870, with 26 deaths. Last week, businesses such as restaurants and hair salons, as well as construction sites, were allowed to get back to work, although on a limited basis. Prime Minister Hassan Diab reportedly told his cabinet during a Tuesday meeting: “This achievement is at risk of collapsing.” A nightly curfew remains in place, partly owing to a recent resurgence of anti-government protests that erupted last year over a large external debt and new tax levies, but which died down during the pandemic. According to Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad, supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open. The country’s international airport has been shut down save for flights bringing citizens home during the pandemic.