Supreme Defense Council declares State of Health Emergency to confront dangerous situation resulting from coronavirus outbreak
11 Jan 2021
Lebanon - The Supreme Defense Council convened at 3:00pm today, at the Presidential Palace, in an extraordinary session chaired by President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, and attended by caretaker Prime Minister, Dr. Hassan Diab.
The meeting was devoted to discuss the health and hospital sector situation and it was decided to declare a state of health emergency to confront the danger of Corona virus. The Council also asked security apparatuses and judicial authorities to strictly implement laws which punish hospitals when they do not receive emergency cases, as well as punishing for the failure to adhere to preventive and public safety measures and procedures.
The Supreme Defense Council also decided to declare a curfew from 5am on Thursday 14th of January, until 5am Monday 25th of January 2021, provided that the bodies, persons and institutions mentioned in the table are excluded from this decision.
At the beginning of the meeting, President Aoun stressed the need to “Take radical measures so that we can mitigate the catastrophic consequences of Corona outbreak”, calling for declaring a state of health emergency to confront this dangerous situation.
For his part, caretaker Prime Minister, Dr. Hassan Diab, said “The continued indolence that we have witnessed during the past few days by imposing the implementation of measures will cause a humanitarian and social disaster”. PM Diab also pointed “There is a consensus that there must be strictness and firmness in imposing a commitment to all areas. It is the duty of everyone to pursue the application of these measures and it is not permissible to be lenient”.
The meeting was preceded by a meeting between President Aoun and PM Diab, during which the implications of the Corona pandemic were tackled.
The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and National Defense Minister, Zeina Akar and ministers of: Finance, Ghazi Wazny, Foreign Affairs, Charbel Wehbe, Interior and Municipalities, Mohammed Fahmy, Economy and Trade, Raoul Nehme, Public Works and Transport, Michel Najjar, and Public Health, Hamad Hasan.
Also attending the meeting were: Deputy Chief of Staff in the Lebanese Army representing the Army Commander, Brigadier General Bassam Yassin, General Security Director-General, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, Director General of Internal Security Forces, Major General Imad Othman, Director General of State Security, Major General Tony Saliba, Secretary-General of the Supreme Defense Council, Major General Mahmoud Al-Asmar, Discrimination Public Prosecutor, Judge Ghassan Ouweidat, Presidency Director-General, Dr. Antoine Choucair, Government Commissioner at the Court of Military Judge Fadi Akiki, Head of Hospital Owners’ Syndicate, Engineer Suleiman Haroun, Head of the Lebanese Order of Physicians, Dr. Sharaf Abou Sharaf, Head of Nurses’ Syndicate, Dr. Mirna Abi Abdullah Doumit, Lebanese Red Cross President, Dr. Antoine Zoghby, Lebanese Red Cross Secretary-General, George Kettany, the President’s Health and Social Affairs’ Advisor, Dr. Walid Khoury, Prime Minister’s Advisor, Dr. Petra Khoury, Director General of the Lebanese Presidency, Dr. Antoine Choucair, Director of Army Intelligence, Brigadier General Tony Kahwaji and the President’s Security and Military Advisor, retired Brigadier General, Paul Matar.
After the meeting, Major General Al-Asmar, read the following statement:
“The Supreme Defense Council held an extraordinary meeting chaired by His Excellency the President of the Republic General Michel Aoun, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Dr. Hassan Diab, a number of concerned ministers, leaders of the military and security services, Discriminatory Public Prosecutor, Government Commissioner at the Military Court, a number of captains of the health professions and the Lebanese Red Cross.
At the beginning of the meeting, President Aoun discussed the seriousness of the health situation which resulted from Corona virus spread, stating that hospitals are no longer able to receive the injured.
“We have seen catastrophic scenes of citizens in front of hospitals looking for a seat or bed, and some were waiting until a bed was emptied. Regarding this reality, it is impossible to remain silent on the tragedies that we see in front of hospitals. Radical measures must be taken so that we can mitigate the catastrophic consequences of Corona virus outbreak” President Aoun said and called for declaring a state of health emergency to confront this dangerous situation.
Then, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said “We are unfortunately facing a frightening health situation. Corona virus has escaped control due to the stubbornness of people and their rebellion against measures taken to protect them from the threat of this pandemic. However, let us also admit that the enforcement of these measures was not equal to the level of the risk. What we have seen, in the past days, specifically since Thursday, that is since the lockdown decision began, didn’t imply that the state exists and imposes its prestige: open markets, crowding of people, and entire regions not concerned with the decision”.
“The state’s appearance was absent, and in some areas there was a public challenge to this decision of closure. The state and all agencies watched as the decision was broken and the prestige was lost. What happened is unacceptable. The state and its administrative military and security apparatus must not resign from responsibility to protect citizens, nor hesitate to perform duties. Corona virus will never distinguish between a region and another, nor between a citizen and another. The continuation of indolence that we have seen during the past days in imposing the implementation of measures will result in a humanitarian and social disaster. We will lose our families, relatives and we will also lose ourselves. The situation doesn’t tolerate any indulgence” PM Diab continued.
“Hospitals are full of sensitive and dangerous cases, people will stand at the doors of hospitals. We will be faced with a Lebanese situation of Corona spread which is worse than the Italian model. Is this acceptable!? Who will bear such situation? It is true that people bear primary responsibility because of their lack of commitment. But there is also responsibility on the state’s administrative and military apparatuses because of the lack of implementation of obligation at the societal level” the Prime Minister added.
In addition, PM Diab said “Why were the measures during the last few days not up to the level of danger? Continuation in laxity in implementing general lockdown will lead the country to a disaster. Expectations are that this week will be more difficult for severe Corona cases. Medical expectations say that painful scenes will be repeated in all regions due to the lack of individual commitment, and failure to impose closure”.
Then, PM Diab pointed out that “In today’s meeting of the Ministerial Committee to confront Corona pandemic, there were several questions about repulsive scenes which we have seen in the past days, and about the role of military and security apparatuses in controlling the situation. There is a consensus that there must be strictness and firmness in enforcing compliance in all regions. There shouldn’t be areas of indulgence. Measures are not only on highways and city-entrances, measures must be put into practice in every district, street and town. Relying on peoples’ awareness in not enough. Everyone is responsible, and interested in protecting the Lebanese. The political authority has taken measures, and it is everyone’s duty to pursue the implementation of these measures. No indulgence is allowed, and decisions to protect people-lives are not allowed to only remain in on paper, or merely debatable theories”.
“Today, we have taken new measures which include more strictness. Military and security apparatuses are required to strictly implement these procedures, since failure means a comprehensive health collapse, God forbid. And I am sure that you are keen on the Lebanese people and you will do your part and sacrifice for their protection” the Prime Minister added.
Finally, Prime Minister Diab concluded asserting that “The army will continue distributing the financial aid, amounting 400,000 Lebanese pounds, over the next few days, targeting about 280,000 families and covering all Lebanese regions”.
The Supreme Defense Council was informed of the recommendations issued by the Ministerial Committee, which was held this morning in 11/1/2021 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, and approved by the Supreme Council of Defense after some amendments were made, provided that the exceptional approval is given by His Excellency the President and the Prime Minister and later on by the Cabinet.
Within the framework of the announcement of public mobilization issued under Decree No. 7315 dated 31/12/2020 related to the extension of the declaration of public mobilization to confront the spread of the Coronavirus until 31/3/2021 implicitly, the state of health emergency is declared and the following measures are taken:
First: Compulsion of arrivals from the following cities: Baghdad, Istanbul, Adana, Cairo and Addis Ababa, which constitute 85% of the number of infections from arrivals out of about 500 arrivals per month, to stay at their expense for 7 days in a hotel and undergo a PCR test on the first day when they arrive and a second checkup on the sixth day of their arrival. On the other hand, passenger traffic at Rafic Hariri International Airport will be reduced from its date to 20% compared to the number of arriving passengers in January of 2020, provided that the arrivals undergo an immediate examination (PCR) at the airport and another examination a week after their arrival. During which the arriving travelers are obliged to quarantine in a hotel for a maximum period of 72 hours until the results of the airport examination are issued and after that they follow the quarantine at their place of residence if the test result is negative, and in the opposite case the instructions of the Ministry of Public Health in this regard are followed, provided that diplomats, their families, officials and delegations are excluded Officials, officers and members of the United Nations, as well as persons who received the Corona vaccine according to a report or medical record are also excluded from the quarantine, and they are only then subject to immediate examination (PCR) at the airport as a precaution.
-Preventing the movement of arriving travelers through land and sea border crossings, excluding transit with tickets with a date of transit.
-Emphasizing that those coming to Lebanon must fill out the form designated for arrivals through the electronic application (#Ma3an Against Coronavirus Ma3an App) prepared by the Public Health Ministry, provided that the airlines ensure that the passenger on board has a negative PCR test result, and fills it out for this form before, to allow him to board on the next plane to Lebanon.
-Minutes of applying this procedure are determined when necessary, and subject to periodic evaluation by a committee composed of ministers of Interior, municipalities, public health, tourism, public works and transportation.
Second: Requesting concerned ministers to tighten the procedures provided by the law and the declared state of public mobilization in order to compel private hospitals to create extra care beds dedicated to treating Corona patients under the risk of legal, administrative and judicial prosecution, especially the requesting guarantor bodies to stop working with hospitals that do not receive Corona cases and provided that the number of intensive care beds required to be provided by private hospitals is not reduced as follows:
-4 Beds for T3 rated hospitals
-6 to 8 beds for T2-rated hospitals
- 8 to 12 beds for T1-rated hospitals
-12 beds and above for university hospitals.
Third: Requesting security agencies and the judicial authorities to strictly enforce the laws that punish hospitals when they do not receive emergency cases, including cases of Corona (according to Article 567 of the Penal Code), as well as punish those who fail to adhere to the procedures and measures of prevention and public safety and to enact the necessary records of violations against those who violate these measures leading to a pandemic spread (according to Article 770 of the Penal Code), especially organizing violation-minutes according to Form No. 401 approved by the Internal Security Forces, and in the event of repetition, organizing judicial investigation reports against violators according to Form (302) and giving instructions to Governors to implement the sealing of administratively violating institutions with wax the Red.
Fourth: It is forbidden to go out to the streets and roads from five o’clock in the morning on Thursday 14/1/2021 until five o’clock in the morning of Monday, corresponding to 25/1/2021.
An exception is made for authorities, institutions and persons specified in the body of this decision and the attached table, which is an integral part of it, provided that they adhere to all public safety measures issued by the Ministry of Public Health, in particular, the obligation to wear masks, ensure social distancing, and not overcrowding in accordance with the following controls, conditions and exceptions:
-Excluding technical teams of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and those in charge of maintaining roads, opening waterways and removing snow, provided that the Minister of Public Works and Transport issues the necessary license for this purpose.
-Closing all public administrations and institutions, independent interests, universities, public and private schools, various nurseries, public parks, docks (Sea Corniche), public and private sports stadiums, both internal and external, and the Casino du Liban. Provided that it is left to the ministers to define the minimum required for managing emergency matters in their ministries and public institutions subject to their guardianship, not exceeding 10% of the total employees and employees, except for the Ministry of Finance, so that this limit becomes 50% in the Ministry of Finance.
-The main institutions of the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, in addition to the General Directorate of State Security, the Lebanese Red Cross, Civil Defense and firefighting groups of all kinds.
-The Ministry of Public Health and its field and volunteer teams, hospitals, government clinics, social care centers, and everything related to the health sector in the hospital, pharmaceutical, laboratory, and medicine fields, as presented in the attached table.
-The General Directorate of Social Security, the General Directorate of State Employees’ Cooperation, Mutual Guarantor Funds, insurance companies, health observers, auditors and the TPA, in relation to hospital, health, pharmaceutical and laboratory approvals.
-Rafic Hariri International Airport and everything related to its administration as well as the management of all sea and land ports.
-The Electricity of Lebanon Corporation and all other institutions and companies responsible for securing and distributing electric current in all Lebanese regions, with everything related to production, supply, distribution and emergency maintenance.
-The General Directorate of Oil at the Ministry of Energy and Water and the management of oil installations, with everything related to securing, storing and distributing fuels, including fuel stations, companies and institutions that handle the import, storage and distribution of gas.
-The General Directorate of Water and Electrical Resources, Water Institutions, the National Authority for the Litani River, and the General Directorate of Investment, with regard to securing, storing and distributing water, and the private companies and institutions that handle the bottling and distribution of water.
-The Ministry of Communications, the OGERO Authority, and everything related to the telecommunications sector in terms of ensuring the continuity of the Internet service and the fixed and cellular telephone networks.
-The Central Bank (BDL) with the minimum work limit, as determined by the Governor of the bank.
-All public administration headquarters and branches of commercial banks operating in Lebanon shall be closed, provided that banks secure the work of specific departments in public administrations, namely the departments of informatics, operations, and the treasury, in order to carry out urgent operations related exclusively to hospitalization cases or the provision of medicine, medical supplies and urgent food security. Banks also ensure that ATMs operate daily without interruption, and that the Bank of Lebanon secures cash amounts daily in accordance with the rules, with reference to the continuation of work with bank cards as usual at all points of sale operating in Lebanon. Banks also are to provide a call center service or a hotline service for banks that do not have a call center service around the clock, in order to secure the aforementioned services, bank administrations issue specific licenses to the employees concerned exclusively with those services and deliver lists of names to those concerned to ensure proper application and control.
-Judges and lawyers related to securing remote trials, in order to decide requests to release detainees, as well as to consider urgent cases and urgent matters.
-Heads and members of the diplomatic corps and the International Red Cross.
-UN personnel to the extent that would conduct emergency affairs according to a decision issued by the UN Special Coordinator.
-Clerics assigned to duties in social centers, provided that they possess a card issued by the competent religious authorities and whose use is restricted during the period of closure.
-With the exception of what is mentioned in this decision and in the attached table linked to it, suspending work in companies, private institutions, shops of all kinds, outdoor and indoor stadiums, sports clubs, offices of self-employed persons, popular markets, cinemas, museums, theaters, video poker halls, electronic games, parties are also prohibited, Public and private events, social events, and gatherings of all kinds.
-Assigning the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities to coordinate with the religious authorities with the aim of closing religious sites and canceling religious events of all kinds and diversity.
Fifth: Concerned Ministries are required, each according to their competence and in coordination with each other, as well as from all security apparatuses, to take all measures that would put this decision into immediate implementation and give the necessary directives to strictly apply it, in addition to strictly respecting safety measures and preventing the Corona virus, including restricting the movement of cars according to the attached schedule. Exempted from this restriction, and during active service times are: employees of the General Directorate of the Presidency of the Republic, the General Secretariat of the Parliament, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Ministries of National Defense and the Interior, municipalities, the military, employees of the health and pharmacist sectors, workers in the diplomatic corps, the media, according to the urgent need and mechanisms of each of the military, civil defense, fire and police Municipalities, the International and Lebanese Red Cross, ambulance services, the medical apparatus, heads and members of the diplomatic corps and United Nations personnel, as well as cranes designated for transporting and towing cars and vehicles for people with additional needs supplied with a card from the Ministry of Social Affairs, arrivals and departures from and to Rafic Hariri International Airport, provided that they have a copy of the travel ticket as a mandatory document. Job cards are to be shown to prove the identity of the excluded persons during their transportation to and from their duty stations.
Sixth: Requesting the Ministry of Information to take the necessary measures to intensify awareness campaigns.
Seventh: This decision will be reviewed when necessary based on periodic evaluation and data submitted by the Ministerial Committee charged with following-up on the issue of preventive measures and procedures for the Coronavirus. The Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, in coordination with the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, is tasked with excluding some emergency cases from the lockdown decision and the table attached to it, within the controls and conditions determined by it and consistent with the purpose of the closure.
Table of Recommendations (10/1/2021):
Factories medicines, serums and oxygen: 24 hours
Work hours are determined on the basis of shifts according to the nature of work, provided that the following are observed:
-Health conditions, prevention measures and public safety.
-Lack of overcrowding.
-Maintaining adequate distances between people.
-The minimum number of users, not exceeding 50% of the total number of users.
- It is limited to manufacturing only, without distribution
Basic food products (milk, cheese, milk, chicken farms ...) 5.00 to 15.00.
Mills 24 hours.
Bakeries 24 hours.
Wholesale vegetable / fruit market 2.00 to 14.00 Restricted only to merchants.
Fish / Meat / Poultry 5.00 to 12.00, restricted only to traders.
Distribution of medicines and medical equipment 5.00 to 17.00.
Food and drug warehouses 5.00 to 17.00.
Retail stores, supermarkets and mini-markets.
Dairy and cheese shops.
Vegetables and fruits.
Butchery / fish / poultry.
Pastry – bean.
Restaurants and stores selling fast food and fast food 5.00 to 17.00.
Delivery service only.
Ovens 8.00 to 15.00.
Water vending 5.00 to 17.00 Delivery service only.
Pharmacy establishments, according to the decision of the Pharmacists Syndicate, to organize customer roles to avoid overcrowding at home and abroad while maintaining adequate distances between customers.
Clinics 8.00 to 17.00.
Medical laboratories 24 hours.
Agricultural and veterinary pharmacy and veterinary clinics 8.00 to 17.00.
Livestock farms, poultry, fish, beekeeping and agricultural work 24 hours.
Sale of newspapers and magazines and their distribution centers 5.00 12.00.
Liban Post - laundry - vision and hearing test stores.
Security / guarding companies 24 hours, provided that health conditions, prevention and public safety measures are adhered to.
Hotels and furnished apartments to adhere to health conditions and preventive and public safety measures / periodic sterilization and to limit the provision of food and drinks in rooms and not to use halls and / or restaurants to receive customers and residents of hotels and furnished apartments.
Banking and money transfer shops. 8.00 to 17.00
Organizing floors to avoid crowding inside and outside, while maintaining adequate distances between customers.
Shipping companies (by air, land and sea) and clearing goods must comply with health conditions, preventive and public safety measures.
Reducing the number of employees to the minimum to conduct the business while taking into account remote work.
Maintaining adequate distances between customers.
Insurance companies and offices.
Companies selling internet equipment, generators and closed cell phone.
5.00 to 17.00 without car wash.
Travel agencies are closed and work remotely.
Centers for requesting travel visas approved by foreign embassies in Lebanon 8.00 to 15.00.
Gas filling and distribution stations and companies 8.00 to 17.00.
Adherence to health conditions, preventive measures and public safety, while maintaining adequate distances between customers.
Maintenance teams for generators and the Internet to adhere to health conditions, preventive measures, public safety, and conditions for transporting vehicles and motorcycles.
Companies that collect, transport and sweep waste, their users, companies that treat such waste (landfill and dust), and companies supervising their work 24 hours.
Money transfer companies 8.00 to 17.00, 4 persons with the mechanism, including the driver (with muzzle).
Transport in public cars:
Transportation in private cars is closed, except for cars heading to and from the airport, provided that a copy of the travel card is shown for this purpose in addition to and to medical institutions, provided that he shows a card from the institution in which he works.
Trucks transporting vegetables, livestock and food.
Refrigerated trucks to transport milk, milk and cheese.
Trucks transporting agricultural goods and animal feed of all kinds 2.00 to 14.00.
Motorbikes only for delivery service”.—Presidency Press Office