Beirut – Joun – Beirut

April, 27 2020

This morning I went for a ride.  I wanted to travel somewhere so I had to have a destination.  I chose Tyre, close the south border of Lebanon. You could ride there following the highway that runs parallel to the coast, except that in the middle there is a city — Saida — where it is illegal to ride a bike.  Not sure if I have mentioned this in a previous post. Apparently, there was a terrorist attack a few years back that involved bikes and since then they have been banned.

This being the case, you have to take a detour through Joune; a nice ride East up the mountains.  From there you follow the road to Room, and then turn West back to the highway where you continue south to Tyre.  A friend of mine who runs the best bar in my neighborhood, Anis, was going to meet me there.     Unfortunately, when I was approaching Joun another friend called to tell me that it was not a good idea to continue.  Protests and road blocks are starting again in that area.  It’s just a question of time until they spread further north.

So, instead, I went to “visit” a monastery a couple of miles past Joun.  Quotes because it was closed.  In normal times you can get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine after your visit.  But these are not normal times.  I just took a couple pictures and headed back to Beirut with one stop to fill-in the tank, buy coffee and use the WC.    

It is likely that the airport here in Beirut will open on June 8th.  Indeed, the Cabinet has put together a plan to reopen the economy that has 5 phases:

  • April 27 (today).  Reopening of the food and agriculture sectors, small and retail shops, sweets shops, hotels, some factories and the electricity and water sectors, the Cabinet added in its decree 
  • May 4. The second phase will see the reopening of the remaining factories, restaurants and cafes (30% capacity, no shisha), children parks, outdoors sports courts, barber and hairdressing shops and car repair shops.
  • May 11.  The third phase will entail the reopening of nurseries (below 3 years), institutions for people with special needs, Casino du Liban (70% capacity for gambling, 30% for restaurants) and car agencies.
  • May 25.  The fourth will meanwhile witness the resumption of the Brevet and Baccalaureate classes at schools, the reopening of universities, malls and shopping centers while allowing cafes and restaurants to raise their capacity from 30 to 50%.
  • June 8. The fifth and last phase will see the reopening of nurseries (3 to 6 years), schools and vocational institutes, pubs, nightclubs, touristic sites, pools, beaches and promenades, gyms and spas, museums, theaters, cinemas, places of worship, religious events, construction sites and entertainment centers (50% capacity) while buses and planes will be allowed to operate.  Conference halls and concert and festival venues will meanwhile remain closed “until further notice.”

I want to be the first passenger out of here.  The plan is to go to the US to visit my daughters and from there fly to St Martin.  It seems St Matin will not open until the beginning of July.  My insurance policy has Antares on the hard, in Grenada, starting July 1st.  I guess I can pay extra to be able to sail down there before the beginning of August.  Worse case, I will sail to Martinique, leave the boat there, and pay a 50% additional premium for yet one more season in the hurricane belt !

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