Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has warned that authorities will use “utmost force” to confront attempts to breach restrictive measures against the coronavirus during next week’s springtime holiday.
During a meeting with governors via video conference on Wednesday, Mabdouly stressed the importance of the “strict implementation of all precautionary measures to prevent any gatherings" during the traditional holiday of Sham El-Nessim on Monday.
Egypt has introduced a series of sweeping measures to curb the spread of the virus, including imposing a nighttime curfew, banning large gatherings, shutting mosques and churches and suspending classes at schools and universities.
Mabdouly instructed authorities to “deter any attempt to violate the decisions with the utmost force," the cabinet said in a statement.
Egyptians usually mark the Sham El-Nessim holiday with picnics at parks or other outdoor excursions but the celebrations this year will be subdued amid restrictive measures to limit the pandemic.
The country has been under a nighttime curfew from 8 pm to 6 am for three weeks now. Under the rules, all malls and shops -- except for pharmacies, supermarkets, grocery stores and bakeries -- should close at 5 pm on weekdays and be completely shuttered on weekends. Restaurants are only restricted to deliveries.
The cabinet had said earlier that shops and malls will be totally shut on Sham El-Nessim as is the case on weekends.
All beaches, public parks and gardens, beaches and any venues that could witness crowding will also be completely shuttered during the ancient Egyptian feast.
Madbouly instructed authorities to closely monitor coastal cities where Nile cruises are operated and major squares which usually see large gatherings.
"Until now the matter is under control. Achieving better results is largely dependent on not making room for any gatherings," Mabdouly told the meeting.
The PM requested ramping up garbage collection and sterilisation activities during the curfew hours.
The curfew, first imposed on 25 March, was extended on 8 April and is due to remain in effect until 23 April.