Hotels and tourist resorts in Egypt have no right to ban women from wearing burkinis at pools and on beaches, so long as these suits are made of materials “compliant with health specifications,” the tourism and local development ministries said in separate statements on Friday.
This week, a video showing an altercation over women wearing the body-covering swimsuits, which are popular with some conservative Muslims, went viral on local social media.
The video showed a group of guests at a resort on the country's north coast engaged in a dispute with a family at the resort over the fact that two of the family group had entered the pool while wearing burkinis.
The group are shown saying that the fabric of the burkinis is unhygienic, while one said the suits had a “bad” appearance.
The family members describe the comments as “discrimination and racism” and deny that there is a difference between the swimsuit material and other swimsuits.
Many Egyptian women have complained that they are banned from going to pools in some tourist areas because they prefer to wear burkinis.
“The incident took place at a private pool in a tourist compound, which is not overseen by the tourism ministry but by the local development ministry,” Abdel-Fattah El-Assi, deputy tourism minister, was quoted as saying in Friday’s statement.
Hotels and resorts have no authority to ban veiled women from entering into pools in burkinis since they have no negative impact on public health, El-Assi added, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
He noted that the tourism ministry had previously issued a circular in this respect to all hotels and resorts.
He also called on all women to file a complaint with the ministry if they experience such actions.
The local development ministry in its Friday statement reiterated that hotels and tourist resorts should not prevent veiled women who would rather wear burkinis from swimming in pools and going to the beach, as long as their suits don't affect the water.
Local Development Minister Mohamed Shaarawy instructed the coastal governorates to be in touch with owners of hotels and tourist resorts to guarantee these regulations are implemented, according to the statement.
Shaarawy also stressed the importance of adhering to all restrictions related to the coronavirus during the four-day Eid Al-Adha holiday, which began on Friday and continues until Monday.
These include keeping all beaches and public parks nationwide closed, and operating hotels, tourist villages and resorts at reduced capacity in accordance with new regulations.
Hotels in Egypt are allowed to operate at 50 percent of their occupancy rate provided that they have received the necessary hygiene safety certificates from the authorities.
Egypt has recorded a total of 93,757 coronavirus cases, including 4,774 fatalities and 38,236 recoveries, as of Thursday.