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Coronavirus: Lebanon introduces fines for not wearing face masks

Published: Updated:

The Lebanese Internal Security Forces announced Tuesday that they will begin issuing fines to anyone walking in public while not wearing a mask.

Police officers will begin issuing the penalties of 50,000 Lebanese pounds, or around $16 at the semi-official rate of 3,200 pounds to the dollar, on Friday.

Anyone travelling by public transport - taxis, buses and minivans - will also be subject to the fine, according to the ISF’s statement.

A maximum of three people, including the driver, can travel in the same private car if not from the same family, and all are required to wear masks.

Anti-government protesters wave Lebanese flags from their cars as they protest by driving through the streets, in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (AP)
Anti-government protesters wave Lebanese flags from their cars as they protest by driving through the streets, in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (AP)

The ISF also called on people to call its emergency number to report behavior that “is harmful to public health in light of coronavirus prevention measures.”

Lebanon’s Health Ministry announced 21 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the total number to 1,140. Twenty-six people have died from the virus in the country.

The last few days have seen a slight decrease in the numbers of new cases, after 63 and 62 cases were reported on Thursday and Friday, respectively. However, this is likely linked to a decline in test results as laboratories were closed over the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Thirteen of the new cases were among Syrian refugees living in a single residential building in the Bekaa Valley town of Majdal Anjar, according to Bekaa governor Kamal Abu Joudeh.

Earlier Tuesday the Interior Ministry called on Lebanese people to continue sticking to preventative measures not only to “protect themselves, their families and their communities” but also to help reactivate economic activity as soon as possible.

A barber wearing a mask listens to a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, May 22, 2020. (AP)
A barber wearing a mask listens to a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, May 22, 2020. (AP)

The ministry said that it was necessary to issue the reminder due to “low compliance” with measures.

According to the government’s Disaster Risk Management body, compliance with COVID-19 curfews and stay-at-home orders ranged between only 50 and 65 percent over the last 24 hours.

The DRM's report listed examples of violations such as walks along the seafront, large Eid celebrations and overcrowded shops.

The Interior Ministry’s statement also reminded people to keep their distance and cover their noses and mouths while out and about, suggesting they could use pieces of cloth, instead of single-use masks which should be thrown away after wearing.

On Monday, Health Minister Hamad Hassan announced that the ministries of health and interior would work together to distribute one million masks for free.

In large towns and cities, local municipalities will be responsible for handing out the masks, while health centers and pharmacies will issue the face coverings in other towns and villages, the minister said.

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