Egypt will allow restaurants and cafes to operate until 12am instead of the previous closing time of 10pm and at an increased occupancy limit starting 26 July.
The measure is part of the gradual reopening of the country’s economy, which has taken a hit due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to an official statement by the Cabinet, Prime Ministry Mostafa Madbouly chaired a meeting by the higher committee for managing the coronavirus crisis, where they approved the partial lifting of restrictions implemented to stem the spread of the virus.
Starting Sunday, cafes, restaurants, and other venues will be allowed to operate until 12am, with commercial malls and shops to close at 10pm. They will be allowed to operate at an increased maximum occupancy rate of 50 percent instead of the previous limit of 25 percent.
Cinemas and theatres will continue to see an occupancy rate of 25 percent, the statement said, adding that the closure of public beaches and parks will remain in effect.
According to the statement, the Cabinet said it will discuss after Eid Al-Adha holiday next week the possibility of reopening public parks and beaches with entrance tickets at an occupancy limit of 50 percent.
Starting October, conferences will be allowed with a maximum of 50 participants, on the condition that the occupancy rate of the conference hall is no less than 100.
A decree making wearing facemasks mandatory nationwide will remain in effect.
Eid Al-Adha, which Egyptians will celebrate this year on 31 July, will see its communal prayers suspended due to the virus, limiting the celebration to a live broadcast of the prayers from one of the country’s prominent mosques.
The statement said that the religious endowments ministry will set controls on the gradual return of Friday’s congregational prayers and present a report to the governmental committee in upcoming meetings.
Wednesday’s announcement comes nearly a month after Egypt gradually began lifting its coronavirus restrictions, abolishing a nighttime curfew imposed to limit the spread of the virus.
The curfew was first introduced in March as part of a series of measures to curtail the spread of the virus and has been revised several times since. Other measures included suspending air traffic, shuttering schools and universities and banning public gatherings.
However, since June, Egypt has moved towards a gradual reopening of its economy, part of a plan to coexist with the virus.
On 1 July, Egypt started gradually resuming regular international flights, which had been halted since March, at all its airports, with foreign tourists only allowed into three coastal governorates.
The areas open for foreign tourists in the first stage are South Sinai, where the popular seaside resort of Sharm El-Sheikh is located, the Red Sea governorate, home to the city of Hurghada, and Marsa Matrouh on the Mediterranean.
On Tuesday, Egypt’s health ministry announced that no new coronavirus cases were detected in the Red Sea and South Sinai governorates, two major hubs for tourism, for the first time since the virus outbreak in mid-February.
Authorities have said lockdown measures would be reviewed periodically before they decide to gradually relax them further, warning that "strict measures" would be imposed if citizens failed to adhere to the rules.
However, Egypt continues to see a significant drop in detected coronavirus cases, registering less than 1,000 daily cases in the past few days.
The total infection tally has reached more than 89,000, with 4,399 fatalities recorded.