Egypt codifies COVID-19 measures under newly issued pandemics law

Ahram Online , Thursday 9 Dec 2021

Egypt has codified a host of COVID-19 restrictions, including those regulating facemasks and public gatherings, assigning jail penalties and fines for violators in accordance with the newly issued epidemics and pandemics law.

Coronavirus in Egypt
File Photo: A woman wearing a protective health mask has her body temperature measured at on a touristic river boat in Egypt s southern city of Luxor taken on March 8, 2020. AFP

The measures were published in the official gazette on Wednesday, almost 10 days after the country ratified the new law which regulates the rules of handling the coronavirus pandemic.

The epidemics and pandemics law allows the country’s prime minister to introduce such emergency measures for a limited period of time to safeguard public health.

Many of these restrictions have been in place since the first days of the pandemic.

These restrictions mandate that individuals wear facemasks on public or private transportation and in enclosed and open public venues where social distancing rules are difficult to be maintain.

The decision applies to government institutions, banks, houses of worship, stores, malls, cinemas, theatres, schools, universities and others.

The unvaccinated seeking to receive in-person public services are not allowed into government institutions, neither are unvaccinated state employees allowed into their workplaces.

Alternatively, a negative test certificate conducted no more than three days earlier may be presented.

Coffee shops, restaurants, hostels, and other tourist attractions are not allowed to serve shishas (water pipes), according to the decree, which was issued by the country's supreme committee tasked with managing the pandemic headed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madboly.

The new law also expanded the number of committee members, adding the culture and civil aviation ministers, as well as the presidential adviser for health affairs.

The committee also imposed a ban on wedding parties and funeral services in indoor public places, including inside houses of worship. It also banned religious and popular festivals in both open and enclosed public places.

However, the committee carved out exemption for funerals and prayer services inside large worship houses, provided that attendees adhere to all anti-coronavirus measures.

Visits to mosques' shrines, which can attract large crowds, are also prohibited, according to the Wednesday's decrees.

The committee said that the entry into Egypt by land, sea or air is limited to arrivals who are vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the WHO or the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA); otherwise arrivals must present a negative PCR test certificate or undergo testing upon arrival.

The decision does not apply to arrivals under 12-years-old.

Punishments are to be imposed on those who contravene the announced measures, the committee said.

Inciting people to violate or disrupt the measures carries a punishment of one year in prison and a fine of no more than EGP 10,000. However, the law allows reconciliation, with violators paying a third of the maximum penalty.

Coronavirus infections and deaths have been on an upward trend as the country is going through the peak of the pandemic's fourth wave.

Thus far, Egypt has a total of 365,831 infections and 20,877 fatalities since the outbreak in February 2020.

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