(Nov. 18, 2020) On November 16, 2020, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior (homeland security) announced that it had begun enforcing new legal measures against individuals violating anti-COVID-19 precautionary protocols. The ministry said that law enforcement personnel had issued 4,975 tickets against public transportation drivers who were not wearing face masks.
The previous week, on November 12, the Egyptian cabinet spokesperson, Nader Saad, announced that starting December 1, 2020, new closing hours established by the Ministry of Local Development would be imposed on public retail stores, malls, restaurants, and cafés. Retail stores would be closing as early as 10 p.m. in wintertime instead of at midnight, while restaurants and cafés would close at midnight instead of at 2 a.m. Essential stores, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, are exempt from the mandate.
Background of the New Measures
On November 4, 2020, Egyptian prime minister Mostafa Madbouly declared at a cabinet meeting that the cabinet would adopt new measures to combat what was described as “the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 cases.” The previous day, Egypt had reported a big increase in COVID-19 cases. The Egyptian minister of health and population, Hala Zayed, indicated during the meeting that the infection rates of the COVID-19 pandemic had increased by about 150% worldwide and urged citizens to adhere to the government’s anti-COVID-19 precautionary measures. Zayed added that failure to implement the necessary preventive measures, detailed below, would increase COVID-19 infections and intensify pressure on the Egyptian health system.
According to the cabinet spokesperson, a fine of 4,000 Egyptian pounds (about US$254) would be imposed on citizens who fail to wear face masks in public and on mass transit.
Mandatory Face Masks in Schools and Possible Suspension of Education
In an effort to prevent the spread of the virus among school students, the minister of education, Tarek Shawky, ordered teachers and students in Egypt to follow strict precautionary measures, including the wearing of face masks throughout the school day. Furthermore, the minister warned if there were an increase in COVID-19 cases, he would issue a decision to suspend education throughout the country.
Creating a Protocol for Medical Treatment of COVID-19
The prime minister ordered the medical sector to create a protocol of medical treatment for COVID-19 cases that would apply to all health facilities across the country and could be accessed by all citizens. The prime minister also asserted that the Central Bank of Egypt would provide financial assistance to all health establishments to enhance their capacity to purchase all necessary medical supplies.