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Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Egypt officially imposes 11-hour curfew, extends for two weeks the flight ban and suspension of schools and universities

Egypt officially imposes 11-hour curfew, extends for two weeks the flight ban and suspension of schools and universities: A strict 7pm to 6am curfew goes into effect this evening for a period of two weeks, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said at a press conference yesterday (watch, runtime: 20:31). Citizens will not be permitted to leave their homes during curfew hours and all forms of public and private mass transportation are prohibited. This includes taxis, rideshare services such as Uber and Careem, and tuk-tuks. While it will not be explicitly banned, Madbouly called on citizens to limit as much as possible traveling between governorates for the coming period.

Schools and universities will remain closed for an additional 15 days, after the initial two-week closure period announced earlier this month elapses. That means that, instead of resuming classes on 29 March, these institutions will now be closed until 13 April.

The suspension of all inbound and outbound international flights will be extended for an additional two weeks. Flights were suspended from last Thursday until the end of the month. The suspension will now be extended until mid-April. Cargo flights are still permitted.

Just about all public-facing government services will be suspended for the entirety of the two weeks. This includes civil registry offices, real estate registry offices, as well as the issuance of all official documents including (but not limited to) car and drivers licenses, passports, national ID cards, work permits, and construction permits. The only exception to this rule will be Health Ministry-affiliated services to allow for the registry of new births and deaths during this period.

What if your driver’s license / work permit / whatever is set to expire? Quite sensibly, the Interior Ministry will extend the validity of all licenses and official documents that are set to expire during the two-week period.

How is the curfew going to impact business? Read on:

Shops and retail stores, including malls, will be closed between 5pm and 6am on weekdays. They will be required to remain closed all day Friday and Saturday.

Cafes, bars, casinos, and nightclubs will be shut down completely for the two-week period. All gyms and sporting clubs are also to close.

Restaurants and other food services will only be allowed to run delivery service from 6am-7pm, but can’t open for table service.

Who’s exempt? Supermarkets, grocers, bakeries, and pharmacies (except for those inside malls).

Hospitals and all medical facilities will likewise be exempt from the curfew and will remain open around the clock. Journalists and media professionals will also be allowed to move freely during the curfew, Information Minister Osama Heikal said, according to the local press.

Petrol stations look like they’ll be allowed to continue operating during curfew to receive deliveries as tankers delivering petroleum products are exempt from the ban on movement.

Banks are moving to shorter hours starting today, the Central Bank of Egyp (CBE) said in a statement (pdf). Employee working hours will run between 9am and 2pm, and banks will open their doors to customers from 9:30am until 1:30pm. The FRA says the same work hours are in effect now for the insurance industry.

The EGX is also shortening the trading day to run from 10am until 1:30 pm, according to a statement (pdf). Price discovery will begin at 9:30am.

The government will also extend for 15 days its previous decision to cut down on the number of civil servants and employees at public sector companies and institutions. This extension will be applied as of 1 April, when the initial decision was set to expire.

The Customs Authority will operate from 8am-4:30pm, prioritizing the release of food, medical supplies and other strategic products, and running two shifts at airports.

Sporting clubs and facilities, youth centers, and gyms will be completely closed for the next two weeks. The Football Association will suspend matches and all other activities until 14 April.

Food manufacturers are allowed to continue operating at full capacity despite the curfew in order to make sure the demand for food commodities is met, said Ashraf El Gazayerly, chairman of the Federation of Egyptian Industries' food industries division, according to Youm7.

What happens if you break curfew? You’re goin’ to jail and will be slapped with an EGP 4k fine. At least if you’re a repeat offender. Cabinet spokesman Nader Saad said last night (watch, runtime: 9:33) that repeat offenders will face both fines and jails, while first-time offenders could get off with a fine alone.

You’re still allowed to leave the house for emergency medical treatment but need to head straight to a treatment facility.

The story is leading coverage of Egypt in the foreign press: Reuters | Associated Press | Bloomberg | AFP | The National | Gulf News

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