New restrictions + details on vaccine rollout
The Madbouly government has announced new measures designed to contain the spread of covid as daily infection figure continues to grow. Cabinet invoked the Emergency Law to impose the restrictions, which include:
Kiss any NYE parties goodbye: Al parties, events and large gatherings are banned and all gathering halls and receptions be closed, according to a cabinet statement out yesterday. These include all New Year’s Eve celebrations, the statement made sure to point out. The statement did not state how long the ban would remain in place.
A new list of fines have been put in place for covid restriction violators. Individuals not wearing masks in public venues can get slapped with a EGP 50 fine starting from next Sunday, while restaurants and cafes that break the 50% capacity limit will face an immediate EGP 4,000 fine and a one-week closure. The government will begin collecting these fines starting from next Sunday, according to the statement.
Cabinet spokesman Nader Saad was all over the airwaves last night talking up the restrictions, noting that hotels that don’t play ball could be shuttered for a month or lose their licenses.
But don’t worry, you can still have a “small” wedding — outdoor wedding parties are allowed with a cap on attendance set at 300 people, whether they’re held in hotels or on the streets.
VACCINE WATCH- We’re definitely negotiating with major players for the rights to locally manufacture a covid vaccine, Saad told Lamees El Hadidi, the queen of late night talk. Health Minister Hala Zayed has met with reps from global pharma companies to talk about production rights and will have an announcement as soon as there is an agreement, he said.
We’re also in talks with AstraZeneca and Pfizer for adequate stocks of a covid jab, but don’t expect to receive some 20 mn shots from Gavi — the global vaccine alliance — until some time in May 2021. Saad’s remarks come as Egypt faces a delay stocking some 500k doses of the Sinopharm jab as Beijing sorts out export plans.
It is unclear whether the government plans to push ahead with allowing attendance at the Men’s Handball World Championship 2021, which is scheduled to take place in Egypt 13-31 January 2021. The Health Ministry had declared that no more than 30% of seats can be filled at the event, which will be organized in an NBA-style bubble system. We’re 100% with late-night screamer-in-chief Amr Adib, who last night suggested that spectators should not be allowed in the bleachers. Handball organizing committee Hisham Nasr countered that boosters in the stands will need to put on masks and keep a distance from one another (watch, runtime: 6:06).
The Health Ministry reported 1,226 new covid-19 infections last night, up from 1,189 the day before. The ministry also reported 53 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 7,405. We now have a total of 110,015 confirmed cases that have fully recovered.
A bit further afield, the mutated coronavirus variant that’s been spreading in the UK has been shown to be 56% more transmissible than other strains, according to a study from a top infectious diseases institute. While this is less than the 70% estimate put forth by the government, it does indicate that the UK will see levels of hospitalizations and deaths next year, the study notes, according to Bloomberg.
The news comes as Europe begins an ambitious campaign to vaccinate hundreds of mns of people, the Financial Times notes.
PSA- Airlines will be allowed to fly foreign nationals out of Saudi Arabia, but nationals are stuck at home as flights into and out of the kingdom remain grounded for an extra week everyone else, Reuters reports. Flights will not be allowed to countries “dealing with the new variant of covid-19,” Bloomberg added.