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Lebanon announces curfew for unvaccinated amid Omicron concerns

For three weeks beginning Dec. 17, those without at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose or a recent negative PCR test will be subject to a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The usually crowded seaside promenade is deserted during a lockdown imposed by authorities in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, in the Lebanese capital Beirut, on Jan. 7, 2021.

Lebanon will impose a three-week curfew for unvaccinated residents beginning Dec. 17 and mandate vaccines for certain workers in an effort to stave off the new Omicron coronavirus variant. 

Those without at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose or a negative PCR test in the past 48 hours will be subject to a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Under new rules unveiled by Lebanon’s COVID-19 committee on Wednesday, public servants and workers in the security, military, health, education and tourism sectors must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 10 or pay for their own PCR test twice a week.   

The coronavirus committee also decided to extend by several days the winter holiday for schools and universities in order for students to have more time to get vaccinated. Bars and restaurants will be required to turn away customers who are not at least partially vaccinated or have tested negative. 

The small Mediterranean country has yet to confirm any cases of the Omicron variant, but its strained health care system is still struggling to tamp down COVID-19 cases. On Wednesday, the Health Ministry announced 1,892 new infections and 10 deaths from the virus, raising the country’s total to more than 670,000 cases and over 8,700 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

A number of other Middle East countries have rolled out travel restrictions and other containment measures to slow the spread of the new variant, which was discovered in South Africa and has since been identified in more than 20 countries. 

Saudi Arabia, which has suspended flights from 14 African countries, confirmed its first case of Omicron in a “citizen arriving back from a North African country,” the Health Ministry said on Wednesday. Israel has identified several cases of the new variant and suspended the entry of foreign nationals for two weeks.