Starting at midnight on Monday, Lebanon’s main land crossing at Masnaa would be closed to arrivals for a week, subject to renewal, according to a source in General Security. The decision includes even Lebanese residing abroad and Syrians and others with residency permits in Lebanon.
The move is one of the preventive measures taken to reduce the risk of Lebanon importing more cases of the coronavirus. Sunday was the last opportunity for those who entered Lebanese territory, after their numbers decreased in recent days to their lowest level in recent times, according to Lebanese public security sources. Transit movement remains open to those wishing to leave Lebanese territory.
The closure of these borders sets a precedent in the relations between Lebanon and Syria. The regime has always been the one to initiate the disruption of movement through Masnaa, the main crossing into Lebanon. It has used this land border outlet as a pressure card, through which it sent political messages even after the Syrian army left Lebanon, and it has succeeded in inflicting economic and social pain on the Lebanese.
It seems that the real source of pain for the Lebanese today is keeping these borders open, especially for the local communities that preceded the central authority’s measures with preventive measures of their own and imposed a kind of travel ban. The municipalities took measures to suspend most economic and social activity. Accordingly, the current impression is that the closure of this land crossing for national health reasons will serve peoples on both sides of the border.
Bekaa residents are especially aware of the enormity of the repercussions of such a decision, and the great losses that can be caused to the people of a country, its land borders and the source of its recurrent crises. However, this time, you find the people agreeing on the need to close the crossing, and keeping it closed until Syria actually reveals the reality of the coronavirus outbreak in its territory and the measures is taking.
Although the people of Majdal Anjar are more likely to be affected by this decision, the mayor, Saeed Yassin, said that “people are willing and ready to sacrifice to protect their health.” He said that, “if the coronavirus does not completely subside within a week or two, we will not allow the borders to be reopened.”
For many, the delay in this procedure may have allowed more than one coronavirus case to cross into Lebanon. According to reports, these included at least one case among Lebanese students who arrived from Iran.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.