Several roads remain blocked as of Thursday, October 31, after a night of anti-government protests in Beirut and other urban centers across the country on Wednesday, October 30. In the Beqaa, several roads were blocked by protesters near Kab Elias, Taalbaya, Marj, Masnaa, and Ghazze. In the north, the main highway is blocked in both directions. Protesters also blocked the road from Tripoli to Akkar with burning tires and parked cars. The army has managed to reopen several roads to traffic on the morning (local time) of Thursday, including the "Ring" highway in downtown Beirut, as well as several roads in Zouk Mosbeh and Jal el-Dib.
The Association of Banks in Lebanon said that normal bank operations will resume on Friday, November 1, after being closed for approximately two weeks due to ongoing opposition protests. Bank employees will resume work on Thursday, October 31, but services will not be available to citizens. Some universities have also said that they will resume classes as of Thursday.
Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and businesses are to be expected in major urban centers over the coming days as protests continue. Further clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
On October 16-17, the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products as part of its 2020 federal budget, as well as a 20 percent daily tax for individuals messaging via the WhatsApp mobile phone messenger application. The announcement sparked mass protests across the country on October 17, forcing the government to revoke the tax proposal. Since then, protests have evolved calling for the resignation of the government and have continued despite an emergency reform package announced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri on October 21. The packages call for a reduction in the salaries of government officials, a plan to privatize the telecommunications sector, and a proposed overhaul of the electricity sector. Dozens of activists have been killed, and several hundred protesters and security forces wounded in the protests. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation.
Individuals in Lebanon are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, anticipate transportation and business disruptions, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.
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