File photo: File photo: Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly during a news conference in Cairo. REUTERS
Egypt’s government announced that it is imposing an EGP 50 fine for not wearing masks in public starting next Sunday.
In a cabinet meeting on Sunday discussing the latest developments of the COVID-19 pandemic in Egypt, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly issued several decisions and directives to curb the spread of the virus after a leap in the official number of cases in the past week.
The government has also banned New Year’s Eve celebrations to curb the spread of the disease in the country, said Nader Saad, the official cabinet spokesperson.
The cabinet also declared that it is completely banning gatherings like funerals and weddings behind closed doors.
“Hotels are obliged to serve a limited number of guests in open air weddings only,” said Saad.
The government will close any establishment that violates its orders and organises gatherings, whether new year and wedding celebrations or funerals. Festivals and events are also banned for the time being, according to the government’s directives.
Restaurants and cafes will continue to work with 50 percent of their workforce. In the event of a violation, they will be fined EGP 4,000 and be forced to close for a whole week.
Egypt announced last week that it will ban New Year’s Eve celebrations in a bid to stem the spread of the virus amid rising daily infections.
Nevertheless, ads of some hotels and restaurants for New Year’s Eve celebrations were seen online.
Egypt announced it has officially entered the second wave of the pandemic on Wednesday, as it saw a two-fold increase in daily reported infections over the past week.
Egypt has warned of a spike in COVID-19 cases since November, as the general public have been showing a relaxed enforcement of the preventive measures since a drop in confirmed cases has been recorded in the past months.
Officials said they will exercise “zero tolerance” against people who fail to adhere to preventive measures against the pandemic.
Egypt has made wearing face masks in public places mandatory since 30 May, with violators facing hefty fines of up to EGP 4,000. However, most people in the country have not been adhering to the mask regulations, especially with the decline in reported infections over the past months.
Egypt began the move towards a gradual reopening of its economy in June, easing pandemic-related restrictions, including lifting a night-time curfew, reopening restaurants and places of worship, and resuming regular international flights as part of its plans to coexist with the virus.
During the meeting, Minister of Education Tarek Shawky and Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar discussed the latest developments concerning the virus in schools and universities, as well as the preparations for the mid-year exams. Minister of Health Hala Zayed also discussed the latest developments of the pandemic in Egypt.
Egypt has so far registered 131,315 cases of COVID-19 since February, including 109,462 recoveries and 7,352 fatalities.