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Monday, 4 May 2020

Egypt’s hotels to reopen from for domestic holiday makers from 15 May — under conditions

Gov’t to allow staycations from 15 May as it seeks relief for tourism sector: Hotels will be permitted to open their doors to domestic holiday makers from 15 May on the condition they take precautionary measures against the spread of covid-19, cabinet ministers said yesterday. Hotel operators will be capped at 25% capacity for the first two weeks of the re-opening before increasing this to 50% by 1 June, cabinet said in a statement.

What protections need to be in place? Companies will need to install sterilization equipment, screen all incoming guests for fever, only take bookings online, and hold no weddings or entertainment events or offer shisha on site. Doctors will also be required to be stationed at the premises, all workers will need to be tested when entering resorts and all hotels will need to have a designated quarantine area to house people suspected of carrying the infection.

The decision will take effect on 15 May, Tourism Minister Khaled El Anany told Al Kahera Alaan’s Lamees El Hadidi last night. Only companies that comply with the rules will be allowed to increase their capacity to 50% at the beginning of June and those found in violation will have their licenses revoked, he said (watch, runtime: 16:55).

Foreign tourists will not be back “anytime soon”: The government isn’t factoring in the return of inbound tourism “anytime soon,” and “we are waiting for the appropriate time,” El Anany said.

El Hekaya’s Amr Adib also took note of the decision to put hotels back in business, stressing that the government should not make rash decisions if it is to reassure foreign tourists that it is safe to travel to Egypt post-covid (watch, runtime: 3:30).

The tourism and hospitality industries have effectively ground to a halt after the government suspended flights and ordered hotels, restaurants, and cafes closed in March. This has led to losses estimated at USD 1 bn a month, according to Reuters. It has also placed considerable strain on the economy as the sector accounts for 12%-15% of GDP, as well as shut down a key source of foreign currency. Minister Mohamed Maait told us in March that he thinks it will take a year for the industry to mount a full recovery.

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