The Lebanese Banking Association announced on Monday, October 28, that banks will remain closed for a tenth consecutive working day on Tuesday, October 29, due to the ongoing protests. According to officials, salaries for public sector workers will still be paid out at the end of the month. However, the banks will be closed as a safety precaution for employees and customers.
Disruptive protests continued on Monday, with demonstrators blocking main roads throughout the country, including the north-south highway. Minor clashes between security forces and protesters were reported on Monday morning (local time) in the city of Sidon. Crowds in Beirut also blocked main roads with cars or with sit-ins.
Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and business 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. At least five people were killed, and several hundred protesters and security forces wounded in the protests.
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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