Lebanon records 923 new COVID-19 cases, new entry rules for hospitality venues

The new numbers add to a total of 560,396 cases and 7,903 deaths in Lebanon since the virus was first discovered in February 2020

  
A health worker is pictured at a drive-through coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing site in Saint George Hospital University Medical center, in Beirut, Lebanon January 15, 2021. Image used for illustrator purpose

A health worker is pictured at a drive-through coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing site in Saint George Hospital University Medical center, in Beirut, Lebanon January 15, 2021. Image used for illustrator purpose

REUTERS/Ayat Basma

BEIRUT: Lebanon recorded 923 coronavirus cases and three deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said Friday, as the Tourism Ministry announced strict coronavirus safety rules for entry into hospitality venues.

The new numbers add to a total of 560,396 cases and 7,903 deaths in Lebanon since the virus was first discovered in February 2020. Out of Friday’s cases, 41 were from travelers arriving into Lebanon.

A total of 24,370 tests were handed out in the last 24 hours, resulting in an average two-week positivity rate of 5.6 percent.

The ministry report also detailed that 279 people were in hospital with the virus, including 103 patients in intensive care and 16 on ventilators.

A further 21,683 first-stage coronavirus vaccines were administered, adding to 1,23,03,61 since the roll out began five months ago. A total of 7,084 second dose jabs were also handed out, bringing the total of fully vaccinated individuals to 867,040 or 18.2 percent of the eligible population.

The Tourism Ministry announced Friday that it would be mandatory to show a coronavirus vaccination certificate or present a negative PCR test to enter hospitality venues such as bars and restaurants from next week.

The decision follows the recommendation earlier this week from the Committee for the Follow up and Prevention of Coronavirus that all institutions under the ministry’s authority must aim for safe, coronavirus free environment.

All tourist establishments including hotels, restaurants, cafes, amusement parks, beach resorts are included in the decree that affects all customers over the age of 16.

Customers and staff will be asked to show a QR code document that either proves previous infection with coronavirus or a negative antigen test or a vaccination certificate.

“It is mandatory for all employees of the tourism sector to receive the vaccine or present a negative PCR result every 72 hours,” the Ministry’s statement also said.

The tourist police will be responsible for monitoring the implementation of the new rule, the Ministry said.

With less than 20 percent of the country fully vaccinated, the new regulation will cause disruption for patrons and business owners alike who will be hesitant to impose any rules that risk deterring customers.

Businesses have been struggling amid the country’s severe economic downturn which has strangled people’s spending power and slashed revenue against rising costs, all of which has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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