Egypt’s Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad has ordered the closure of central nature reserves on the Sham El-Nessim day, which marks the advent of spring and is scheduled for Monday, amid a surge in coronavirus infections in the country.
The Wadi Degla Protectorate in Cairo and other protectorates in Fayoum are included in the decision, Fouad said in a statement on Sunday.
Egypt has about 30 nature reserves nationwide, including two in each of Cairo and Fayoum and four in Sinai.
The decision aims to “limit gatherings as these reserves witness heavy turnout at that time every year due to their presence in Cairo or being close to it,” the statement said.
The move also comes “as part of the precautionary measures taken by the state to curb the spread of the virus and protect citizens' health,” it added.
The minister will be following up on the decision and will take legal procedures against violators, it warned.
The minister urged citizens to be careful and adhere to the precautionary measures amid a rise in the coronavirus infections.
Egyptians celebrate Sham El-Nessim, which is a public holiday, as one of the oldest annual occasions after Easter Sunday.
As a tradition on that day, Egyptian families get together and head to parks, beaches and other public places to share food and enjoy the fresh air.
Several governors of Egypt’s 27 governorates, including the capital, have already issued directives to close public parks and beaches ahead of Sham El-Nessim.
Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country with 100 million people, is currently suffering from a third coronavirus wave and the new daily infection toll has topped 1,000 every day since 27 April for the first time since 9 January.