Egypt has slightly revised an imposed nighttime curfew to run until 5 am instead of a previous 6 am starting Sunday, minister of State for Information Osama Heikal announced.
Heikal’s statements came during a press conference held at the ministry’s headquarters in Cairo on developments related to governmental efforts to combat the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The newly announced curfew hours come one day after Egypt began imposing on Saturday a nationwide curfew that begins at 8 pm instead of a previous 5 pm for two weeks, marking a gradual reopening of a country heavily affected by the coronavirus repercussions.
Wearing face masks in public places has become mandatory since Saturday, with violators facing hefty fines.
Face masks are mandatory for workers or visitors at markets, shops, banks, as well as governmental or private institutions until further notice, according to a decree by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly earlier this month.
The decree also states that commuters taking public or private transportation must also wear face masks.
Those who do not not wear a mask will be subject to a fine up to EGP 4,000.
The country saw last week a coronavirus interrupted Eid El-Fitr religious holiday, which marks the end of the Islamic fasting month Ramadan, after stricter measures, mainly an imposed curfew, ran starting 5 pm during the six-day holiday.
Despite the stricter restrictions last week, Egypt reported on Saturday 1,367 new coronavirus infections, the highest single-day increase announced to date, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 23,449 since the detection of the first case on 14 February.
Saturday’s toll was the third consecutive day for the country to witness a single-day record surpassing 1,000 cases in the number of detected infections.
The total death toll currently stands at 913 nationwide, after announcing 34 deaths on Saturday.
The curfew was first introduced in March as part of a series of measures to curtail the spread of the virus and has been extended several times since. Other measures include suspending air traffic, shuttering schools and universities, closing mosques and churches and banning public gatherings.
Egypt appears adamant to gradually re-open the economy to recover the main sources of foreign currency, including tourism and remittances from Egyptian expats.
The country has signalled in the past few weeks that it is looking to pull back on some of the heavy restrictions introduced in recent months, and has urged the public to maintain social distancing and other preventive measures when these changes are made.
In recent weeks, Egypt has resumed a number of governmental services, including licensing vehicles, as well as some court sessions.
Starting Monday, administrative services, including those handling civil status, passports, emigration and nationality, work permits, and those at the criminal evidence department will be resumed.
As of mid-June, the state will announce a gradual resumption of several activities, including sporting clubs and youth centres, while following precautionary measures against the virus. This may also include the gradual reopening of places of worship.