Lebanon to Lock Down 170 Towns, Shut Bars and Nightclubs

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A couple sit on their car watch "Hours" at a drive-in movie event at a park, in Byblos town, north of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, July 17, 2020. A group of Lebanese fresh university graduates have launched a drive-in cinema, bringing back the experience that has recently been making a comeback worldwide, as movie theaters remain close because of the coronavirus pandemic. The drive-in cinema experience in Lebanon comes with a special twist, with all proceeds going to needy families to help deal with the country's economic crisis. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Almost 170 Lebanese villages and towns will go into lockdown for the next week, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday, as Lebanon grapples with record numbers of novel coronavirus cases.

The Ministry also ordered bars, pubs and nightclubs nationwide closed “until further notice.”

An interior ministry statement said 169 villages and towns across the country would be locked down for one week from 6:00 am on Monday.

Around half of those localities had already been placed in lockdown under measures announced this month, including the closure of all public and private institutions excluding bakeries and pharmacies.

The towns include 26 in Northern Metn, among them Antelias, Naccache, Bourj Hammoud, Dbaye, Dekwaneh, Fanar, Jal el-Dib, Zalka and Sin el-Fil. They also include seven Tripoli neighborhoods and 14 towns in Chouf, 12 in Jbeil, 20 in Keserwan, 14 in Baabda, 13 in Aley and 13 in Zahle.

Lebanon, a small country reeling from its worst economic crisis in decades, has recorded 52,558 novel coronavirus cases, including 455 deaths.

Infections have spiked in the aftermath of a catastrophic explosion at Beirut’s port on August 4 that killed more than 200 people, injured thousands, damaged several hospitals and overwhelmed the capital’s health services.

Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan warned on Monday that increasing virus cases in the country could reach levels seen in Europe and called localized lockdowns a “last chance.”

Authorities fear the continuous rise of cases could further overwhelm the country’s fragile healthcare sector.

On August 21, authorities imposed an almost nationwide lockdown as well as a night-time curfew, but they eased the restrictions a week later after protest from the private sector.

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