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Lebanese ventured onto their roofs to escape lockdown

A view of Beirut around sunset since mid-March would show largely empty streets and shuttered shops at ground level, but unusual activity above.

Lebanon’s rooftops have recently been graced by unlikely scenes of locked-down residents fleeing their flats.

Deprived of rehearsal rooms or workshops by restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the novel Coronavirus, many people have found solace without leaving their buildings.

Several have ventured onto their roofs to escape the lockdown after taking to the streets in recent months as part of nationwide protests against rulers deemed corrupt and inept.

On a hedgehopping flight over the city, maybe yoga instructors Rabih al-Medawar and his wife Alona Aleksandrova could be spotted trying out new acrobatic moves on their roof.

Travelling north towards the seaside town of Byblos, Lebanese gymnast Karen Dib might appear, tumbling down the red mat she had laid out on the top of her building.

And in Tripoli, Lebanon’s main northern city, artist and activist Hayat Nazer might be glimpsed working on her latest canvas.

Others too have been heading upstairs to sunbathe, read or smoke a shisha water pipe.

Nazer said she hoped the weeks of lockdown would leave a positive mark on the way residents thought of their city.

“I really hope people will start planting and greening their roofs to help the environment,” she said.

“They have been underused. You can do sports there, organise barbecues, have parties.”

Mami, the dancer, said she would not forsake her roof when the lockdown ended and her theater reopened its doors.

“I have found a place where I feel free and I will continue to use it,” she said.