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Morning Brief

More eligible for vaccines, Easter lockdown, Beirut blast recovery plan: Everything you need to know today

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Thursday, April 1, and over the holiday weekend

More eligible for vaccines, Easter lockdown, Beirut blast recovery plan: Everything you need to know today

As of today, several new groups are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through the public vaccination campaign. (Credit: Anwar Amro/AFP)

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Several new groups are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines through the public distribution process. As of today, health workers as well as residents aged 65 and up and those aged 55–64 with chronic illnesses are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. Those aged 55 to 64 working in public institutions are eligible to receive AstraZeneca. A Health Ministry spokesman was unable to provide more details about which public sector employees would be eligible. Once this stage of inoculations is complete, those aged 16–54 with chronic conditions, people with special needs and their caregivers, people working in elderly care homes and jail workers will be eligible for AstraZeneca. In a separate order, caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan said travelers arriving in Lebanon who present a certificate showing that they were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 15 days earlier will be exempted from PCR test requirements.

A lockdown will be in place over Easter weekend, but churches will still be allowed to hold services at reduced capacity. The lockdown, intended to limit large gatherings over the holiday weekend, will be in effect from 5 a.m. on Saturday to 5 a.m. on Tuesday. Places of worship will be permitted to open only at 30 percent capacity, and residents will be required to submit online permit requests to attend religious services, as well as to visit supermarkets, pharmacies and other essential businesses. Restaurants will close except for delivery.

A prisoner was found dead in an apparent suicide in Roumieh Prison, the Internal Security Forces disclosed Wednesday. The prisoner, who was identified as A.K., a Palestinian born in 1986, had been transferred to Roumieh on Tuesday afternoon from another detention center, the ISF said in a statement. A security source told L’Orient Today that the man had been one of several people arrested in connection with a shooting in Beirut’s Tariq al-Jadideh area. On Tuesday evening, officers found him hanging by a towel in the cell where he was held to quarantine upon his arrival. A delegation from the National Human Rights Commission visited Roumieh on Wednesday “amid complaints about deteriorating prison conditions, especially the quantity and quality of medical care and food,” and reports of the prisoner’s death in solitary confinement, the commission said.

Judge Tarek Bitar is expected to finish questioning all suspects currently detained in connection with the Beirut port explosion today, a judicial source told L’Orient Today. Twenty-five people were detained in connection with the blast, including Customs chief Badri Daher, who was questioned on Monday in the case, as well as many low-level port workers who were held for months without being informed of the details of the charges against them. The judicial source also said Bitar will hear testimony from former Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf next Tuesday, noting that Sarraf had come forward saying he has details on the Beirut Port explosion that he wants to share.

Government officials met with representatives of the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank, donor countries and local civil society groups as a first step in a long-term post-Beirut port explosion recovery plan. The UN, EU and World Bank announced plans in December to set up a fund to cover an estimated $2.58 billion in recovery and rebuilding costs over the next 18 months, contingent on political and economic reforms. According to minutes from Wednesday’s meeting, Lebanese government representatives committed to a string of major actions, including completing the investigation into the blast, moving forward in talks with the International Monetary Fund, approving a 2021 budget with a “strong inclusive social protection program,” adopting a vision for reforming the port sector, and taking measures to strengthen the independence and effectiveness of the judiciary — to the extent possible within the limits of the government’s caretaker capacity.

The Morning Brief will be on hiatus over the holiday weekend. We will return on Tuesday, April 6, with everything you need to know for next week.

Corrections: The previous version of the Morning Brief stated that those aged 16–54 with chronic conditions, people with special needs and their caregivers, people working in elderly care homes and jail workers were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from today. However, these groups will in fact become eligible in the next phase of the inoculation rollout. The previous version also stated that Judge Tarek Bitar would question former Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf next Tuesday, when in fact the judge will hear testimony from Sarraf. L’Orient Today regrets these errors.  


Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Several new groups are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines through the public distribution process. As of today, health workers as well as residents aged 65 and up and those aged 55–64 with chronic illnesses are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. Those aged 55 to 64 working in public institutions are eligible to receive AstraZeneca. A...