Hilton Zamalek Residence Cairo – Photo courtesy of Hilton Hotels & Resorts
Egyptian hotels will be able to reopen to local tourists and offer restaurant and day-use services once more, provided that they operate at a 25 percent capacity cap until the end of May, Antiquities and Tourism Minister Khaled El-Enany said on Sunday.
The move aims to boost domestic tourism amid worldwide lockdowns that have abysmally affected the industry of hospitality, one of Egypt's main sources of hard currency.
Hotels are expected to accommodate guests at a 50 percent capacity starting from June, he added.
Hotel services, including restaurants, night clubs, and pools, have been closed to the public since March in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Existing guests were allowed to continue staying at hotels, however.
Egypt’s airspace has also been closed to international commercial flights since 19 March.
El-Enany’s remarks were made during a meeting with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Health Minister Hala Zayed, and Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Manar on Sunday.
Egypt adopted sweeping measures in March in a bid to contain the pandemic, including imposing a nightly curfew, banning public gatherings and shuttering schools, mosques and churches.
But the government started to ease some restrictions put in place and is hoping life would return to normal after the Eid Al-Fitr religious holiday, which begins around 23 May.
Some lockdown measures have already been lifted, with the night-time curfew shortened to begin at 9 pm, more businesses allowed to reopen and government offices opening their doors to the public.
Sunday's meeting has set a raft of accommodation regulations for hotels to be allowed to resume operations.
Hotels must have a clinic with resident doctor and must ensure the availability of personal protective kits and disinfection materials.
Guests must be registered online or using single-use pens and have to should get their temperatures measured each time they enter resorts. Workers have to undergo rapid coronavirus tests when entering resorts.
Hotel operators must form joint teams with the health ministry's infection control department to guarantee all requirements are met.
Hotels will still not be allowed to hold any parties or weddings, or any kind of overnight activities, the tourism minister said.
A small facility or a whole floor at every tourist resort will be allocated for isolating any confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases, the minister said.
Each hotel will work at a lower capacity of 50 percent of employers, providing accommodation for workers.
According to the new regulations, hotel restaurants can only serve pre-set menus and buffet services will be banned.
Guests should be at dining tables with a distance of no less than 2 metres between them, with 1 metre between each person at the same table.
Family tables should not exceed six chairs, and single-use dining utensils should be used as much as possible.
Shishas are still banned at hotel restaurants.