Egypt's government will delay the enforcement of a ministerial decision to shut shops and restaurants early across the country, Local Development Minister Ahmed Zaki Abdeen told private Egyptian TV channel Al-Hayat, late Wednesday.
The new government initiative, which was set to start Saturday, has been postponed "until further notice" as the internal regulations for implementing the decision have yet to be formulated, Abdeen affirmed.
Enforced early closing times was first suggested in August by Petroleum Minister Osama Kamal and approved mid-October, as a means of saving energy.
All retailers were ordered to shut their shops by 10pm and restaurants by 12pm. However, pharmacies and places counted as catering for tourists would be exempt.
Trade and Industry Minister Hatem Saleh told Ahram's Arabic-language news website earlier this month that the new closing times would save the country LE6 billion a year in electricity.
This decision has, however, come under scrutiny as many small shop owners make their living through opening at night after finishing their day jobs.
An argument ensued Wednesday evening between Abdeen and ONTV's television anchor Reem Maged during a televised call-in to her programme, after Maged reported that shop owners had said the decision would cause unemployment and detrimentally affect people's livelihoods.
Abdeen rejected Maged's comments, adding that she had no pretext for her statements and abruptly ended the conversation.