People in Lebanon Depressed, Frustrated by COVID Measures

People in Lebanon Depressed, Frustrated by COVID Measures

Near the northern entrance of the city of Sidon, Samer Razian, accompanied by his dog, was practicing his favorite beachside hobbies that include swimming and working out.

“How come it is forbidden to swim in the sea but we are allowed to swim in swimming pools?” Razian said.

The beach corniche is free and is the place for physical distancing, and people there are safe from coronavirus, he added.

The municipality of Sidon had asked all of its residents and visitors not to visit the beach or swim in the sea, in accordance with the general mobilization decisions to face the coronavirus pandemic and for them to be safe from strong sea currents, as a number of drowning incidents occurred last week.

Municipality officers called on people via loudspeakers to evacuate the corniche.

Salwa told The Daily Star that she, along with her kids, had walked 3 kilometers from home to get to the corniche because she didn’t have money for a taxi.

“If [security forces] are able to take us away from here, then let them,” she said.

The public beach and swimming pool in Sidon are still closed for visitors while the lifeguards are consequently unavailable.

“We were quarantined at our homes because of coronavirus, no school, no play … we were getting depressed,” Jamal Akra, a 12-year-old student told The Daily Star.

“Where are we supposed to go? We don’t have money for private swimming pools,” he said, adding that he preferred the sea anyway.

Abbas Kharoubi was playing with his kids by the beach when municipality police officers asked him to leave after issuing a fine.

“There is no one else here. How would I contract the virus?” Kharoubi had told the police officers.

Patrol officers had taken over the southern coast, coming across violators of the general mobilization rules, which state that swimming in the sea is not allowed at this stage.

“No one can contain the southern coast, which is around 60 kilometer long,” Kharoubi said.

Lebanon has been under a state of general mobilization and a lockdown since March in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus. However, establishments, shops and offices have gradually been allowed to reopen starting May through a governmental plan.

The Interior Ministry Sunday issued a decision that allows most venues around the country to operate, with some exceptions that include beaches.

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