Covid cancels Eid, but we’ll get an extra-long break
A semi-lockdown is coming into effect today after the country largely “canceled” covid-19 over the past several months, with cafes flouting a shisha ban and individuals no longer abiding by social distancing or wearing masks indoors, Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 1:30) last night.
ICYMI: Al stores, malls, cafes, food carts, and restaurants and public gathering places will be shuttered at 9pm every night starting from today until Friday, 21 May. All conferences, concerts, and public events are canceled for the next two weeks.
There’s no restriction on movement after 9pm. Public transport will still be running and there’s no curfew going into effect, Saad told Moussa. Grocery stores and pharmacies will be exempt from the 9pm closing order, and all restaurants or cafes can continue delivery services or provide pick-up past 9pm.
Outdoor concerts are banned — but weddings are okay, provided there are no more than 300 people in total on site including guests, waiters, camera crew and the like, Saad noted. Wedding celebrations will need to wrap up by 9pm (watch, runtime: 29:34).
The penalties: Restaurants, cafes, shops, and other establishments that violate the restrictions will be shut down for a week, with owners facing an EGP 4k fine and / or imprisonment. Repeat offenders will be shut down for two weeks and will face the same fine and possible imprisonment (watch, runtime: 1:44).
What’s going to happen once the two-week period elapses? That depends on the situation at the time, Saad said. If the two-week clampdown proves effective and citizens take covid-19 more seriously, the restrictions could be lifted, but it’s also entirely possible that the same restrictions will be extended for another two weeks or that new restrictions will be introduced to get infections under control. “All options are on the table,” Saad said.
THE UPSIDE: We’re getting a five-day break for Eid El-Fitr, with the holiday running Wednesday, 12 May to Sunday, 16 May, inclusive, as we reported in EnterprisePM yesterday.
The Health Ministry reported 1,102 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 1,090 the day before. The ministry also reported 64 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 13,655. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 232,905 confirmed cases of covid-19.
Foreign pilgrims may not be allowed to go on Hajj for a second straight year as Saudi Arabia mulls moving ahead with another “very limited” pilgrimage amid dramatic increases in new covid-19 cases globally and the emergence of highly-transmissible variants of the virus, Reuters reports, citing unnamed sources in the know. The pilgrimage could be restricted to vaccinated nationals and non-Saudi residents. Local people who have recovered from the virus at least six months prior to attending might also be permitted to attend Hajj, sources said. A final decision is yet to be taken by authorities.
Traditional Eid prayers will be held this year only at “major” mosques, Awqaf Minister Mohamed Gomaa said, according to Youm7. Eid prayers at mosques other than those where Friday prayers are being held or at large public spaces are strictly prohibited, Gomaa added.
COVID AROUND THE WORLD-
- India accounted for c. 46% of the world’s new covid-19 cases and a quarter of global deaths last week as the country’s epidemic spirals out of control, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its weekly epidemiological update (pdf).
- Covid breached a summit of G7 foreign ministers in London: Two Indian delegates tested positive for the virus, forcing the entire delegation to the G7 visiting London this week to self-isolate as a precautionary measure, Reuters reports.
- The US expects to see a sharp decline in covid-19 cases by July thanks in large part to its high vaccination rates, according to data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday in its weekly Morbidity and Mortality report.