May 17, 2020 / 3:29 PM / 15 days ago

Lebanon to resume economic re-opening from Monday after coronavirus shutdown

A view of an empty road, as Lebanon's government ordered most of the country to shut down again for four days, to ward off a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) resurgence after easing some restrictions, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon will gradually reopen its economy beginning on Monday, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said, following a four-day shutdown imposed after a rise in coronavirus cases threatened a second wave of the outbreak.

Already in the throes of a deep economic crisis, Lebanon began easing virus-related restrictions on business late last month to try to restore some economic activity. But that plan was paused last week after a rise in new cases.

Lebanon has been relatively successful reining in the outbreak since a mid-March lockdown that set an overnight curfew and shut most business and air travel. The country of about 6 million people has recorded 911 infections and 26 deaths.

In a televised address on Sunday, Diab said the economy would resume its gradual re-opening, but warned Lebanese to adhere strictly to health and safety guidelines that had been flouted during the initial attempt.

“We do not want this stage to turn into a nightmare, and we will not accept that all Lebanese pay the price for some irresponsible and indifferent behaviours,” said Diab.

A five-stage plan for resuming economic activity unveiled last month envisages most economic activity restored after a final period beginning on June 8.

Lebanon has not set a date for the re-opening of its airport for commercial flights.

Reporting by Eric Knecht; Editing by Frances Kerry

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