BEIRUT: With the advent of Easter for Christian sects that follow the Western calendar, Lebanon entered a new cycle of total lockdown and curfews on Saturday.
The holiday mood is non-existent for the second year in a row due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In addition, the economic crisis reduced what was left of the holiday celebrations, which were hampered by anti-virus measures.
The lockdown will continue until Tuesday morning.
As of Saturday morning, the roads were empty and stores were closing their doors, while supermarkets pledged to use an electronic platform that limits the number of customers allowed inside.
Restaurants used only take-out and delivery services.
Internal security forces conducted foot and foot patrols and established checkpoints to monitor violations, stressing the need to wear masks.
The latest Home Office decision allowed prayers in churches, provided they do not exceed 30% of capacity and commit to social distancing measures. The faithful must obtain a prior permit to attend church.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Lebanon continues to approach half a million, while the death toll has exceeded 6,200.
The last of the politicians to contract the virus is Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces Party, and former minister Ghassan Hasbani.
Dr Firas Al-Abyad, director of the government university hospital in Hariri, expressed fears of an increase in the number of cases during Easter and Ramadan due to family reunions.
The number of those who received one dose of the vaccine reached 149,687 people, of which 81,680 received two doses.
Tony Bejjani, owner of a restaurant in Beirut, said: “Easter this year is less than normal, and we have only been fasting.”
He added: “There is no sign of Easter this year. None of the people I know have gone shopping.
“People do not communicate with each other for fear of contracting COVID-19, nor do they go to mass.”
Bejjani added: “People are economically and psychologically exhausted. Our work came to a standstill for two months and 22 days after the New Years holidays due to the lockdown, and today we had to close again although the holidays are a good season in which we can make up for some of the our losses.
“People are afraid and no one is happy. They are waiting for any opportunity to travel and never come back. “
A bank employee with a salary relatively shortly before the financial crisis said: “There is no joy on this holiday. It is forbidden for people to meet, and if we go to church to pray, only two people are allowed to sit on the same bench.
She said she “had resorted for months to making sweets at my house and selling them on social media because the salary only lasted a week with the deterioration of the Lebanese pound.”
She said sarcastically, “People weren’t buying regular eggs to color them on Easter after their price doubled, and they also stopped buying chocolate eggs.”
Lebanon has reached a political deadlock in the absence of any progress in mediating to resolve the conflict that has stood in the way of government formation for more than 160 days.
This was the focal point of an Easter message that Maronite Patriarch Béchara Al-Rahi conveyed to the Lebanese people.
He again criticized the “ruling group and those around it” and said: “They are manipulating the fate of the nation as a whole, its people, its land and its dignity.”
He added in his harsh message to politicians: “It has become clear that we are facing a plan that aims to change Lebanon in its entirety, including its system, identity, form and traditions. There are parties which adopt a methodology of demolishing constitutional, financial, banking, military and judicial institutions.
“There are parties who also adopt the problem-starting methodology to prevent solutions and settlements. Let everyone realize that the life of a country is not made up of quotas. “
As soon as Patriarch Al-Rahi concluded his message, President Michel Aoun tweeted that “the fight against corruption is done by naming the corrupt and appointing them. The widespread accusation anonymizes those who are truly corrupt and outright misleads public opinion. “
Aoun’s comment raised many questions in political circles, especially regarding his timing.
It was later announced that Aoun would meet with Patriarch Al-Rahi on the eve of Easter.
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