France is to resume issuing visas to Lebanese people “out of solidarity” following the devastating explosion that destroyed a large area of the capital Beirut earlier this month.
The explosion on August 4 in the port area of the city left at least 171 people dead, injured thousands, and plunged the country into an even deeper political crisis.
Thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in the city's port where it had been stored for more than six years, apparently with the knowledge of top political and security officials.
The granting of visas had been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Lebanon hard in recent weeks after being initially contained, with a record 309 cases and seven deaths recorded last Tuesday.
According to a statement by the French Foreign Ministry: "Following the explosions in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, France has decided to resume exceptionally the processing and issuance of visas for the benefit of Lebanese nationals residing in Lebanon, without any restriction other than the usual conditions for entry, and to allow their entry into its territory.”
"This gesture of solidarity towards the Lebanese people is made in the strictest respect of health requirements" Sunday’s statement said.
“People aged eleven or more coming from Lebanon, a country where the virus is actively circulating, will have to undergo a PCR test upon their arrival in France".
In the event of a positive test, people will have to isolate themselves for two weeks.
On Saturday French forensic police arrived in Beirut to help undertake an impartial investigation of what led up to the explosion at the port.