Despite the lockdown, mass demonstrations have been held on several occasions in major urban centres including Beirut and Tripoli to protest the financial crisis. Some of these protests quickly turned into riots and the killing of a protester by security forces in Tripoli on 27 April has only fuelled public anger. Heightened security measures remain in place in the cities. Government attempts to defuse tensions by lifting certain restrictions on commercial activities may have also indirectly caused a spike in Covid-19 cases, prompting further lockdown extensions.
Lebanon’s challenges are expected to persist over the coming months as efforts to secure a financial relief package from international actors is at an early stage. Without international aid, protests are likely to gain further strength nationwide especially in urban centres where the crisis has hit the hardest. Amid this backdrop of unrest, Lebanon remains a divided society and the threat of sectarian conflict looms near as the situation worsens.