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Monday, 5 July 2021

Restrictions on hotels + other non-essential businesses eased from Tuesday

Restrictions on hotels + other non-essential businesses eased from Tuesday: Hotels, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theaters and retail stores are now allowed to operate at 70% capacity instead of the current 50%, the cabinet announced yesterday.

The new rules will come into play on Tuesday, and were taken in light of the improving situation, Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad told Ala Mas'ouleety's Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime 15:04) last night.

The daily covid tally fell again yesterday: The Health Ministry reported 179 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 181 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 282,082 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 22 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,264.

The 50% cap on hotels had been in place for more than a year since being raised from 25% in June 2020. Restaurants and cafes were allowed to have their capacity increased to half a month later.

The move comes as anticipation builds for a full tourism recovery: The government expects tourism to bring in between USD 6-9 bn this year as the global vaccine rollout helps to normalize international travel and visitors return to Egypt. Around 3.5 mn tourists visited the country during the first six months of the year, which is almost the same amount of people who visited Egypt in the whole of last year.

What’s the plan for Eid Al Adha prayers? The same precautionary measures implemented during Eid El Fitr will apply during prayers later this month, Saad told Al Kahera Wal Nas in a phone interview (watch, runtime 13:21). Traditional Eid prayers were held only at “major” mosques, while Eid prayers at mosques other than those where Friday prayers are being held or at large public spaces were banned. The Awqaf Ministry is yet to decide whether to open ladies’ prayer halls at mosques.

The latest vaccination tally: Around 4.5 mn people have now received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine in the five months since the government began its vaccination campaign, Saad noted. That would indicate that 500k people have been jabbed in the two weeks since 20 June, when local press reports claimed 4 mn people had received the vaccine.

This translates to 7.5% of all people eligible to be jabbed — given Capmas estimates there are a little more than 60 mn Egyptians aged over 18 — far behind the 40% targeted by the government by the end of the year.

How does Egypt plan to speed up the pace? The country will focus on local manufacturing of covid-19 vaccines due to global delays in vaccine deliveries. The government thinks it can produce 80 mn doses of Made-in-Egypt Sinovac by the end of the year. The first batch of Vacsera’s locally-made jabs were produced last week and are expected to be distributed to clinics next month.

Egypt hasn’t detected any cases linked to the Delta variant, Saad told Moussa (watch, runtime 3:15). The ministry is carrying out random checking for Delta to ensure that there aren't any cases diagnosed with the widespread variant. Inbound travellers from countries with the Delta variant will undergo a PCR test upon arrival even if they are either fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative PCR test. Check the full list of countries here.

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