General view of a street, after Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly ordered all restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, night clubs, shopping malls and shops to shut their doors from 07:00 p.m., in Cairo, Egypt March 19, 2020. (Reuters)
Egypt is imposing a curfew from 7 pm to 6 am for two weeks as of Wednesday morning as part of stricter measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Tuesday.
During the curfew hours, all mass public and private transport will be suspended, Mabouly said.
Violators will be subject to emergency law penalties, which vary from a EGP 4,000 ($253) fine to jail terms.
The prime minister said the “firmer and stronger” measures are meant to minimize the risk of quick virus transmission, adding that even “stricter” measures may be taken in the future.
He urged Egyptians to comply with the new steps, warning that the country could reach the "dangerous" milestone of 1000 infections.
Egypt has so far registered 366 coronavirus cases, including 19 fatalities.
All shops and malls will be completely closed on the weekend and will shut down from 5 pm to 6 am on weekdays, the prime minister said. Only supermarkets, pharmacies and bakeries will be exempt from the closure.
All Coffee shops will be totally shuttered and restaurants can only run delivery services.
An ongoing suspension of schools and universities that was due to end later this month will be extended for a further two weeks. Sporting clubs and gym will also continue to be shut.
All commercial international flights, which have been suspended since 19 March, will remain grounded until mid-April, a separate statement from the cabinet said.
Most government offices and public services, except for health offices, will shut their doors to the public during the curfew period. And a decision to limit the number of government employees going to work will also be prolonged until mid-April.
“We are looking at the implications of these decisions for the Egyptian economy while trying as much as possible not to harm different classes of people,” especially irregular workers, Madbouly said.
The government has also allocated EGP 1 billion to the health ministry to help it provide preventative supplies, the cabinet said in a statement Tuesday.
"I call on all Egyptians to fully comply with these measures," President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Twitter, warning that authorities will confront "attempts to breach them with utmost firmness and resolution."
Egypt has already taken a raft of measures to stem the spread of the fast-spreading virus including shuttering mosques and churches, suspending international flights and earlier shutting malls and sporting clubs from 7 pm to 6 am.