Lebanon


Authors:
Chadia El Meouchi – Managing Partner – Badri and Salim El Meouchi Law Firm
Carine Farran – Partner – Deputy Managing Partner – Badri and Salim El Meouchi Law Firm
Myriam Khoury – Associate - Badri and Salim El Meouchi Law Firm


Contact details:
Chadia El Meouchi – Managing Partnerchadia.elmeouchi@elmeouchi.com
Carine Farran - Partner – Deputy Managing Partner carine.farran@elmeouchi.com
Myriam Khoury – Associatemyriam.khoury@elmeouchi.com

Firm:
Badri and Salim El Meouchi Law Firmlegal@elmeouchi.com
Website Contact: www.elmeouchi.com
Address: Charles Malek Avenue, 812 Tabaris Building - Block A
Local Number: +961 1 203 245


General overview of the main regulations issued and legal measures adopted in the Republic of Lebanon ("Lebanon") as of 1 February 2020 to prevent, limit the spread of, and remedy the Covid-19 outbreak in Lebanon (the “Overview”). This Overview is for general guidance only and provides for the main regulations issued and legal measures adopted as at 4 May 2020 and is not intended to be an exhaustive review of the laws of Lebanon particularly given that due to the extraordinary situation, the legislation is in continuous evolution and may change at any time. The Overview is provided on a general basis and does not constitute in any way whatsoever a full-fledged definitive legal advice, memorandum or opinion on the subject matter, and specific legal advice should always be obtained for specific legal issues on a case by case basis. Should you require further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us through the contact information above.

Introduction

General Overview

The government of Lebanon has adopted preventive and protective measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 even before the World Health Organization's declaration of Covid-19 as a pandemic on 12 March 2020 and before the detection of the first case of infection in Lebanon on 21 February 2020.

On 1 February 2020, the Government issued a decision establishing a committee to follow-up on the preventive measures and procedures adopted for the fight against Covid-19; as of that time, it also progressively issued decisions aiming to control and limit air transport to some of the countries where infection cases have been registered, and issued by 11 March 2020, decisions addressing necessary measures and procedures to be adopted to prevent and limit the virus spread.

On 15 March 2020, the government of Lebanon announced a state of general mobilization to counter the coronavirus along with an emergency plan to be adopted and implemented by the relevant ministries. The general mobilization has been extended by virtue of three consecutive decrees issued by the Council of Ministers for 4 periods of two-weeks; the latest extension being from 27 April to 10 May 2020; a “deconfinement plan” was adopted during that time, based on 5 phases to be implemented gradually (from: 27 April, 4 May, 11 May, 25 May and 8 June), taking into account the potential risks of each sector and activity and levels of priority.

Implementation measures have been issued by relevant ministries and authorities related to various sectors during the general mobilization, including but not limited to:

  • Limitation and suspension of air traffic;

  • Implementation of schedule for the movement of cars and trucks on specific days of the week according to their license plate number;

  • Decisions introducing national curfews and permitted working hours depending on the sector of activity;

  • Provision of monetary and food aids to citizens;

  • Launch by the Ministry of Public Health (“MOPH”) of a new campaign aiming at providing the citizens with the necessary guidance to prevent the Covid-19;

  • Launch by the Ministry of Information of a new website regarding the Covid-19 latest news in Lebanon.

  1. PREVENTIVE MEASURES

1.1 Legal basis

  • Prime Minister decision no. 9/2020 issued on 1 February 2020 regarding the creation of the committee to follow up on the preventive measures and procedures adopted for the coronavirus (Prime Minister decision no. 9/2020).

  • Lebanon’s Ministerial Crisis Cell decisions issued on 22 February 2020 regarding preventive measures and procedures for the coronavirus (Ministerial Crisis Cell decisions).

  • The Media Office of the Prime Minister decisions issued on 28 February 2020 regarding procedures set out by the Disaster Risk Management Unit of the Council of Ministers to be followed by public administrations/authorities (Media Office of the Prime Minister’ decisions).

  • Announcement no. 4690 issued by the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities (“MOI”) on 10 March 2020 addressed to public administrations regarding preventive measures to be adopted by employees to avoid the risk of spread (MOI announcement no. 4690).

  • Prime Minister decision no. 42/2020 issued on 11 March 2020 regarding measures and procedures aiming to limit the spread of the coronavirus (Prime Minister decision no. 42/2020).

1.2 Measures

  1. Prime Minister decision no. 9/2020 - The Lebanese Prime Minister issued on 1 February 2020 decision no. 9/2020, by virtue of which a committee to follow up on the preventive measures and procedures adopted for the coronavirus was formed (the “Coronavirus Committee”). The Coronavirus Committee is headed by the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Defense and will include as members, representatives of the following ministries: MOPH, Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Social Affairs, as well as representatives of the Internal Security Forces, the Lebanese Red Cross, and the Disaster Risk Management Unit Director at the Council of Ministers’ Presidency.

    The Coronavirus Committee’s mission would be to (i) consolidate the efforts of the concerned departments and ministries in facing the possibility of the virus’ spread, identify the scenarios for virus spread and take the necessary precautionary measures in public facilities (such as the airport, schools and various public places); (ii) evaluate existing national capabilities to contain cases of the disease, and the ability of hospitals, the MOPH, and relevant agencies to respond in the event of a virus outbreak, (iii) determine the needs at the national level in the event of a virus outbreak and prepare a plan for communication and coordination with regional and international partners in the areas of combating cross-border pandemics, (iv) set a mechanism to request external assistance when and if needed and (v) disseminate accurate information to citizens through all means of audio-visual communication and social media platforms.

  2. Lebanon Ministerial Crisis Cell decisions – On 22 February 2020, Lebanon’s Ministerial Crisis Cell – based on the recommendation of the Coronavirus Committee – adopted a series of decisions and preventive measures and procedures for the coronavirus, including:

  • Isolation of individuals manifesting symptoms of infection, and passengers arriving from countries where infected cases have been reported, at the Governmental Hospital.

  • MOI to commission local authorities (municipalities) to supervise the implementation of the procedures of self-isolation of passengers returning from countries that have registered infected cases, and who did not manifest any symptoms of infection, including all persons sharing their residence.

  • MOPH to generalize the self-isolation procedures mentioned under the second item to all citizens and relevant authorities.

  • Prevention of Lebanese citizens and other residents from traveling to countries that have registered coronavirus cases, and mandate the Coronavirus Committee to provide the General Directorate of the General Security with a list of such countries to implement this ban in all land and ports, and at the airport.

  • Suspension of expeditions and trips to isolated areas in the following countries: China, South Korea, Iran and other countries, to the exception of necessary trips (medical, education, business), and instruction of the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Defense to supervise the implementation of these standards in coordination with the General Directorate of Civil Aviation, the General Directorate of the General Security and the Airport Authority.

  • Commissioning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism and MOPH, alongside the General Directorate of the General Security, to contact Lebanese nationals residing in the affected countries, monitor their health conditions, and coordinate with the local authorities to secure the required treatments and provide them with the necessary guidance.

  • Commissioning the Ministry of Economy and the MOPH to prevent the export of individual medical protective equipment (PPE), provide a count of local stock available and secure the import of necessary quantities.

  • Spreading awareness in sports clubs, schools, nurseries, universities, airport, airplanes and other places of crowded gatherings, regarding the obligation to implement health protection measures and frequent sanitization, in accordance with the instructions of the MOPH.

  • Commissioning the MOPH with allocating a governmental hospital in each governorate/province to be an exclusive center to receiving any case of infection and providing the necessary specifications and equipment.

  • Assigning the Ministry of Information, in coordination with the Disaster Risk Management Unit of the Council of Ministers and the MOPH, to keep the Lebanese public well-informed, transparently and periodically, of all procedures, decisions, and developments in this respect, in cooperation with the audio-visual and written media outlets and social media websites.

  • Restricting the transfer of infected or suspected cases solely with the Lebanese Red Cross Association.

  1. Media Office of the Prime Minister decisions – The Media Office of the Prime Minister issued on 28 February 2020 procedures set out by the Disaster Risk Management Unit of the Council of Ministers – based on the World Health Organization technical guidance and in coordination with the MOPH - to be followed by public administrations/authorities in the context prevention, control and limitation of spread of the coronavirus aiming to uniformize and standardize such measures and procedures amongst public administrations/authorities.

  2. MOI announcement no. 4690 – The MOI issued on 10 March 2020 an announcement no. 4690 addressed to all public administrations affiliated to the Ministry, with respect to preventive measures to be adopted by the employees to prevent and limit the risk of spread of the Covid-19.

  3. Prime Minister decision 42/2020 - the Prime Minister issued on 11 March 2020 decision no. 42/2020 regarding measures and procedures to be adopted to limit the spread of the coronavirus:

  • Commissioning the public administrations, public institutions, municipalities, and federations of municipalities to (i) implement a rotation-basis schedule with the minimum number of employees in a manner to ensure the continuity of the public facility and urgent transactions and operations and (ii) take all measures to prevent groupings in public and private places (amusement parks, cafes, parks, shopping centers, restaurants, entertainment places ...) and issue the necessary decisions to implement such measures.

  • Requesting that employers in all sectors (commercial, industrial, agricultural, tourism ...) take the necessary measures to protect their employees, in line with the prevention requirements while ensuring continuity of production.

2. INTERVENTIONS AND RESTRICTIONS

2.1 Legal basis

  • Decree no. 6198 issued on 15 March by the Council of Ministers announcing a state of general mobilization to counter the coronavirus until 29 March 2020 (Council of Ministers Decree no. 6198).

  • Announcement no. 5072 issued by the MOI on 18 March 2020 relating to the strict implementation of Decree no. 6198 announcing a state of general mobilization (MOI announcement no. 5072).

  • Decree no. 6209 issued on 26 March by the Council of Ministers extending the state of general mobilization until 12 April 2020 (Council of Ministers Decree no. 6209).

  • Prime Minister Decision No. 54/2020 issued on 25 March regarding the adoption of additional measures to strengthen the fight against the coronavirus (Prime Minister Decision No. 54/2020).

  • Decision no. 479 issued by the MOI on 5 April relating to the mobilization of cars and trucks on specific days of the week according to their number plates (MOI Decision no. 479).

  • Decree no. 6251 issued on 9 April by the Council of Ministers extending the state of general mobilization until 26 April 2020 (Council of Ministers Decree no. 6251).

  • Decree no. 6296 issued on 24 April 2020 by the Council of Ministers extending the state of general mobilization until 10 May 2020 (Council of Ministers Decree no. 6296).

2.2 Measures

  1. Council of Ministers Decree no. 6198 announcing a state of general mobilization – The Council of Ministers issued on 15 March Decree no. 6198 announcing a state of general mobilization to counter the coronavirus until 29 March 2020 and has adopted an emergency plan including inter alia (and not limited to) the following:

  • Citizens are required to stay in their homes as much as possible, and to avoid leaving homes unless absolutely necessary.

  • All public and/or private gatherings are canceled.

  • Travel Measures: Further to the measures previously announced regarding the suspension of flights to/from some countries (Italy, South Korea, Iran, China, and so forth), all land and sea border crossing points in Lebanon and the International Airport are closed to passenger traffic, as of Wednesday March 18 2020 until 29 March 2020.
    Lebanese nationals and their family members as well as those who hold residency cards in Lebanon are allowed to return until 18 March 2020 inclusive; they however will have to undergo a health screening (PCR) test at the airport; even if they do not show Covid-19 symptoms, they must still adhere to home isolation for 14 days.

  • Closure of public administrations and public institutions and municipalities and unions, universities and schools and nurseries to the exception of, including but not limited to, the Ministry of Defense, MOPH, hospitals, NGO and all institutions related to the medical sector, the NSSF, the Central Bank and banks and so forth.

  • Suspension of work in all private institutions and companies and commercial stores, and liberal professions offices to the exclusion of bakeries and institutions related to the manufacturing and sale of food and essential products etc.

  • Request from the relevant ministries, municipalities and federations of municipalities, and military and security agencies to take necessary legal measures to execute such decree.

  • Exemption of custom duties for a period of 2 months on the importation of medical equipment and supplies.

  1. MOI announcement no. 5072 – Pursuant to the issuance of the decree announcing a state of general mobilization, the MOI issued on 18 March 2020 an announcement no. 5072 relating to the strict implementation of Decree no. 6198 announcing a state of general mobilization also providing for a prohibition of all restaurants to receive customers and closure of all commercial stores to the exception of bakeries and entities that manufacture/produce and sell food and necessary products.

  2. Prime Minister Decision no. 54/2020 – The Prime Minister also issued Decision no. 54/2020 on 25 March regarding the adoption of additional measures to strengthen the fight against the coronavirus (noting that all decisions previously resolved within this framework remain valid and applicable): (i) introduction of national curfew between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. to the exception of bakeries, pharmacies and factories that produce all types of medical equipment; (ii) traffic will be prohibited during the aforementioned period.

  3. Council of Ministers Decrees no. 6209 and 6251 – Pursuant to the issuance of the decree announcing a state of general mobilization until 29 March 2020, the Council of Ministers issued Decree no. 6209 on 26 March 2020 and Decree no. 6251 on 9 April extending the state of general mobilization respectively until 12 April 2020 and 26 April 2020.

  4. MOI Decision no. 479 – The MOI issued on 5 April Decision no. 479 relating to the mobilization of cars and trucks on specific days of the week according to their number plates.

  5. Council of Ministers Decree no. 6296 – The Council of Ministers issued on 24 April 2020 Decree no. 6296 extending the state of general mobilization until 10 May 2020 provided that a “deconfinement plan” be adopted during the period between 27 April and 10 May, based on 5 phases to be implemented gradually (starting respectively on 27 April, 4 May, 11 May, 25 May and 8 June), taking into account and depending on the potential risks of each sector and activity with an indication as to the levels of priority.

    This decision also provides for the following main measures:

  • Commitment to continue adopting “social distancing” between people, as well as using cloth masks as a minimum standard and instructing the MOI and the competent security services to follow up on the citizens’ commitment to the provisions of this decision, by notably issuing the necessary circulars in view of the implementation of the provisions thereof.

  • Requesting from the relevant ministries, municipalities and federations of municipalities, in coordination with trade unions, employers and the Coronavirus Committee to develop safety manuals addressing hygiene conditions, safe distancing, and other safety measures, especially remote work, and setting rotation schedules with the minimum of staff required to ensure the continuity of the work.

  • Establishing a rotational-basis schedule for public sector employees (to the exception of all military and security agencies, hospital and health institutions and/or the ones concerned with health, medical care and medicines) in a manner that ensures to prevent overcrowding within the administration and the departments and maintain social distancing.

  • All judicial bodies are required to ensure the progress of work of all courts to the extent that would take into account the measures of prevention and safety, prevent overcrowding and maintain social distancing.

  • The Minister of Interior and Municipalities’ Decree no. 479 issued on 4 April 2020 regarding the timetable schedule for the movement of cars and trucks according to their license plate number shall remain in effect until the end of the general mobilization period.

  • All private institutions not mentioned in the 5 stages plan are required to resume work as of 11 May 2020 and take the necessary measures to organize their activities.

  • Urging citizens over the age of 65 years to stay at home and avoid going out except for cases of extreme necessity until 10 May 2020.

  • The national curfew has been extended between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the entire period of mobilization.

  • A weekly debrief on the reopening plan will occur and it is up to the Prime Minister to introduce any necessary amendments thereto.

3. AIR TRAFFIC

3.1 Legal basis

  • Council of Ministers decision issued on 25 February 2020 regarding decision to control air transport and travels (Council of Ministers decision).

  • Decision no. 1/104 issued on 28 February by the Minister of Public Works and Transport - Directorate General of Civil Aviation to suspend air, land and sea transport for all passengers arriving from certain countries (Minister of Public Works and Transport Decision no. 1/104).

  • Decree no. 6198 issued on 15 March by the Council of Ministers announcing a state of general mobilization to counter the coronavirus until 29 March 2020 (Council of Ministers Decree no. 6198).

  • Press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 29 March 2020 (Press release).

3.2 Measures

  1. Council of Ministers decision - On 25 February 2020, the Council of Ministers issued a decision resolving the control of air transport and travels with countries that are experiencing a coronavirus outbreak, and limit flights to and from such countries based on urgent need, in addition to suspending religious flights.

  2. Minister of Public Works and Transport - Directorate General of Civil Aviation Decision no. 1/104 - The Minister of Public Works and Transport – based upon the recommendation of the Ministry of Health and on the governmental decision - issued on 28 February 2020 decision number 1/104 to suspend air, land and sea transport for all passengers arriving from China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy, noting the possibility to extend such ban to other countries depending on the needs determined by the Coronavirus Committee. However, this restriction is not imposed on Lebanese citizens outside Lebanon and foreigners residing in Lebanon.

  3. Council of Ministers Decree no. 6198 announcing a state of general mobilization – Further to the abovementioned measures, the Council of Ministers issued on 15 March Decree no. 6198 announcing a state of general mobilization to counter the coronavirus also imposed travel measures whereby all land and sea border crossing points in Lebanon and the International Airport are closed to passenger traffic, as of 18 March 2020.
    Lebanese nationals and their family members as well as those who hold residency cards in Lebanon are allowed to return until 18 March 2020 inclusive; they however will have to undergo a health screening (PCR) test at the airport; even if they do not show Covid-19 symptoms, they must still adhere to home isolation for 14 days.

  4. Press release of the Minister of Foreign Affairs – On 29 March 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is completing data collection on the situation of Lebanese expatriates in order to take appropriate measures by the Council of Ministers.
    Through Lebanese missions abroad, the Ministry is following up the situation of expats stranded abroad, and providing assistance when needed, especially to students.
    The Ministry distributed to all Lebanese consolidates and embassies two forms that Lebanese can fill in case they want to return to their home country or if they are having difficulty transferring money from Lebanon.
    The Ministry is also following up the arrival of Lebanese expatriates in direct coordination with the Coronavirus Committee, the MOPH, the General Directorate of General Security, the General Directorate of Civil Aviation and the Middle East Airlines to ensure that all agreed procedures are being implemented.

4. PUBLIC PLACES AND BUSINESSES

4.1 Legal basis

  • Announcement no. 36 issued by the MOI on 9 March 2020 relating to specific measures to counter the coronavirus (MOI announcement no. 36).

  • Decree no. 6198 issued on 15 March by the Council of Ministers announcing a state of general mobilization to counter the coronavirus until 29 March 2020 (Council of Ministers Decree no. 6198).

  • Announcements no. 40, 42, 43 and 46 issued by the MOI on respectively 26 March, 30 March, 5 April and 25 April 2020 relating to permitted work and working hours depending on the sectors of activity (MOI announcements no. 40, 42, 43 and 46).

  • Decision no. 479 issued by the MOI on 5 April relating to the mobilization of cars and trucks on specific days of the week according to their number plates (MOI Decision no. 479).

  • Council of Ministers Decree no. 6296 issued on 24 April 2020 extending the state of general mobilization until 10 May 2020 (Council of Ministers Decree no. 6296).

4.2 Measures

  1. MOI announcement no. 36 - Announcement no. 36 issued by the MOI and Municipalities on 9 March 2020 provides for specific measures to counter the coronavirus including but not limited to (i) the creation of municipal committees to organize awareness campaigns, (ii) limitation of social interactions and presence in churches and mosques and cancellation of all social and public events and gathering, (iii) communication of measures of safety by which food stores should abide to maintain the highest levels of safety, (iv) creating a hotline number for help, (v) securing places for confinement, (vi) providing all municipalities and NGOs with the necessary equipment, (vii) distributions of aids, equipment and food to families and so forth.
    This announcement also provides for the closure of pubs, restaurants and gyms and the supervision of such measures by the MOI under penalty of fine and obligation to report to the MOI.

  2. Council of Ministers Decree no. 6198 announcing a state of general mobilization – Decree no. 6198 issued by the Council of Ministers on 15 March announcing a state of general mobilization to counter the coronavirus provides notably under the emergency plan adopted: (i) that all citizens are required to stay in their homes as much as possible, and to avoid leaving homes unless absolutely necessary; (ii) all public and/or private gatherings are canceled; (iii) closure of public administrations and institutions and municipalities and unions, universities and schools and nurseries and so forth; and (iv) suspension of work in all private institutions and companies and commercial stores, and liberal professions offices to the exclusion of bakeries and institutions related to the manufacturing and sale of food and essential products etc.

  3. MOI announcements 40, 42, 43 and 46 - Announcements no. 40, 42, 43 and 46 issued by the MOI on respectively 26 March, 30 March, 5 April and 25 April 2020 determine permitted work and working hours permitted depending on the sectors of activity and amend such opening and closing times of the exempted institutions permitted to work under certain conditions during the general mobilization. Announcement no. 46 also extends the curfew to 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. (instead of 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. previously).

  4. MOI Decision no. 479 – The MOI issued on 5 April Decision no. 479 relating to the mobilization of cars and trucks on specific days of the week according to their number plates.

  5. Council of Ministers Decree no. 6296 – The Council of Ministers issued on 24 April 2020 Decree no. 6296 extending the state of general mobilization until 10 May 2020 (i) stresses on the commitment to continue adopting “social distancing”; (ii) establishes a rotational-basis schedule for public sector employees and so forth.

5. HEALTHCARE

5.1 Legal basis

Decisions and announcements issued by the Ministry of Public Health with respect to measures to combat diseases and pandemics.

5.2 Measures

Based on the World Health Organization's declaration of Covid-19 as a pandemic on 12 March 2020 and declaration of a state of medical emergency, the MOPH issued several announcements and decisions regarding the preventive measures to be adopted in hospitals and medical institutions as well as in the airport, protocol regarding symptoms, test procedures and measures to fight the disease, reporting requirements to the MOPH. The MOPH also implements the health measures agreed upon within the Lebanese Government.

The MOPH also issues daily reports on new cases and the status of existing cases in the governmental and private hospitals.

By way of example only, and without limitation, the MOPH issued announcements on 31 January, 24 February, 9 March and 10 March regarding the symptoms, procedures to be followed to undertake the tests and other medical procedures and measures to fight the disease as well as preventive measures to be adopted to limit the spread, along with the procedures to be adopted by the MOPH.

The MOPH also issued announcements addressed to medical institutions and hospitals regarding the measures that need to be taken therein and role of private hospitals in the context of the pandemic, and set out the process relating to the Covid-19 medication in hospitals. The MOPH also issued a decision relating to the process and measures to be adopted by hospital with infected cases that do not manifest any symptoms and the obligation to report to the MOPH.

The MOPH also supervises the “contingency plans” implemented by hospitals to fight the coronavirus. Also, laboratories and hospitals have the obligation to report electronically all the cases of Covid-19 to the MOPH.

The MOPH also set out the obligation on hospitals to undertake necessary trainings to ensure the capability of hospitals to operate in the state of emergency.

The MOPH also implemented health measures agreed upon within the Lebanese government’s plan to return Lebanese expatriates during flights and at the airport, and defined the required isolation procedures according to the health status of expatriates in coordination with the Coronavirus Committee, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the General Directorate of Public Security and Middle East Airlines, and in collaboration with hotels that receive expatriates for isolation.

The MOPH also issued a decision relating to the creation of technical committee for assistance of pregnant women to counter the coronavirus which committee notably raises awareness and organizes trainings for pregnant women specifically.

6. EDUCATION

6.1 Legal basis

6.2 Measures

  1. Ministry of Education announcement no.7 - On 21 February 2020, the Ministry of Education issued an announcement no.7 addressed to private and public educational establishment with respect to preventive measures to be adopted by such institutions, parents and students regarding the Covid-19 and imposing a strict obligation of supervision of the students and so forth.

  2. Council of Ministers decision - The Council of Minister issued a decision on 28 February 2020 providing notably that the Minister of Education will issue within 48 hours a decision on the possibility of closing schools, after coordination with the MOPH and the Coronavirus Committee.

  3. Ministry of Education announcement no.8 - In an announcement no. 8 issued on 3 March addressed to schools, high schools and vocational colleges, the Ministry of Education requested the closure of such institutions as of 29 February 2020 in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and to undertake necessary measures by administrations to sanitize the institutions and to spread awareness to students and prepare emergency programs to assist students finalizing the curriculum.

  4. Ministry of Education announcement no. 15 - On 17 March 2020, the Ministry of Education also issued an announcement no. 15 regarding e-learning during the pandemic situation on several platforms; schools are hence providing classes to students through such platforms. Also, teachers from private and public sectors volunteered to teach classes to support e-learning during the general mobilization.

7. SUPPORT IN SPECIFIC SECTORS

7.1 Legal basis

7.2 Measures

  1. Foreign support to the Lebanese Government: By virtue of a decree no. 6248 dated 3 April 2020 issued by the MOPH the Lebanese Government accepted a donation from the People’s Republic of China of 1000 PCR tests for the coronavirus, and by virtue of a decree no. 6253 dated 9 April issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Lebanese Government accepted a donation from the People’s Republic of China of 2000 PCR tests and 200 manual thermometers for the coronavirus.

  2. Support and aids to Lebanese citizens

  • Council of Ministers decisions – On 17 March 2020, the Council of Ministers resolved to create a fund to receive donations from Lebanese nationals and foreigners, and the establishment of crisis cells in municipalities to tackle the coronavirus.

On 19 March 2020, the Council of Ministers resolved the opening of special accounts at the Central Bank of Lebanon to receive monetary donations allocated for the coronavirus and requested from the Central Bank to open such accounts. The Council of Ministers also resolved the opening of special accounts at the Governmental hospital to help the medical sector. The ministers also donated 100 million LBP from their personal compensation.

The Council of Ministers also resolved the distribution of social assistance to citizens whose businesses are disrupted, including food aids and monetary donations.

  • Social Affairs – The Minister of Social Affairs held a press conference at the Grand Serail on Thursday 26 March and announced that in light of the exceptional situation and the economic and social pressures, as well as the difficulty for a large number of Lebanese to meet their basic daily needs, the Council of Ministers decided to adopt a response plan to meet the needs of the most vulnerable families that were affected by this crisis. The plan will comprise transparent standards and ensures a response within the limits of available capacities, and in coordination with relevant Ministries

This plan is mainly based on the three following pillars:
1 – Provide health and social services through the Ministry of Social Affairs’ affiliated centers.
2 – Offer financial and fiscal facilities.
3 – Provide food, detergents, and disinfectants to families classified as poor as per the national assistance plan for the poorest families.

This assistance is also intended for families with children, old people, persons with special needs, and other people who live in social assistance establishments. It also targets families of people suffering from chronic diseases, people who are confined or quarantined at the request of the MOPH, nurses working in the medical sector, taxi and bus drivers, workers who were dismissed, according to data provided by the Ministry of Labor, farmers, fishermen, prisoners, and mine victims, as well as all families applying for help or service, in accordance with the mechanism adopted.

  • Telecommunications sector - In a decision to encourage citizens, including students, to stay home during coronavirus crisis, the Lebanese government announced on 12 March that, the national internet service provider (ISP), will double the speed and capacity for users until the end of April – which was extended until the end of June (by virtue of a decision issued in April) and providing additional internet services.

Also, the Ministry of Telecommunications issued on 9 April 2020 decree no. 6254 to lower the fees for the internet services provided due to the coronavirus situation.

8. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

8.1 Legal basis

Ministry of Justice decision issued on 25 April 2020.

8.2 Measures

In view of the current situation and in line with the Council of Ministers’ Decree no. 6296 issued on 24 April extending the general mobilization until 10 May 2020, the Ministry of Justice issued a decision on 25 April extending the suspension of hearings in courts and judicial departments until May 4 to the exception of hearings scheduled to issue judgements. The criminal courts however continue to issue decisions with respect to the requests for release of detainees, and civil courts also takes urgent measures when necessary during this time.

Also, according to the Ministry of Justice’s decision, two employees need to be present at the administrations on a rotational basis in order to ensure the continuity of the work.

9. TAX

9.1 Legal basis

9.2 Measures

By virtue of several decisions issued by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry extended the deadline for submitting tax declarations and tax payments.

By way of example only:

  • On 23 March 2020, the Ministry of Finance issued a decision no. 125/1 suspending all tax obligations with deadlines ranging between 1 March 2020 and the end date of the general mobilization period, until Lebanese Council of Ministers issues a decision ending the general mobilization.

  • The Ministry of Finance also issued an announcement no. 790/S1 dated 1 April 2020 addressed to all public administrations and public institutions and municipalities and syndicates of municipalities and others public law persons instructing them to finalize all procedures imposed in relation to agreements even if the concerned party has not settled the stamp duty on agreements and deeds according to certain procedure set out by the Ministry; these entities must notify the indirect tax administration of these agreements, deduct the value of the stamp duty from the first payment due, and settle to the Ministry the amounts deducted based on periodic settlements.

Also, the Minister of Labor decision no. 23/1 dated 1 April 2020 extended the deadlines for submitting the monthly and quarterly NSSF contributions related to the first six months of year 2020 in addition to the yearly nominative declaration of the year 2019, six months from each due date.

By virtue of Decree no. 6255 issued by the MOPH on 9 April 2020 and Decree no. 6278 issued by the Ministry of Finance on 16 April, importation of coronavirus medical equipment and supplies which use is limited to prevention and medication of coronavirus cases are exempt from custom duties.

10. MISCELLANEOUS

Suspension of deadlines

The Lebanese parliament adopted a law on 22 April 2020, to suspend legal, judicial and contractual deadlines. As at 4 May 2020, this law has still not yet been published in the Official Gazette.

This law provides that all legal, judicial and contractual deadlines granted to public and private right individuals/entities for the purpose of exercising all kind of rights are suspended automatically between 18 October 2019 and 30 June 2020; and the suspension of the deadlines include administrative, civil, commercial and criminal matters; these deadlines are to resume after the expiry of the suspension period.