Egypt tightens measures during celebrations marking Ramadan’s end

Cairo (AFP)

Egypt on Sunday announced a lengthening of its night-time curfew and other measures to prevent large gatherings during Eid al-Fitr holidays marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“All shops, malls, restaurants, entertainment facilities, beaches and public parks will be closed for six days from May 24-29,” said Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli.

Egyptian men perform the "Zuhr (noon) prayer" at a public park in the capital Cairo, with mosques  remaining closed to curb the spread of coronavirus
Egyptian men perform the “Zuhr (noon) prayer” at a public park in the capital Cairo, with mosques remaining closed to curb the spread of coronavirus – AFP

Public transport will be halted and the nationwide curfew in force from 5 pm during that period, he told a Cairo press conference.

During the fasting month of Ramadan, the curfew ran from 9 pm to 6 am.

Eid al-Fitr is normally marked by mass morning prayers, visits of family and friends and large gatherings in public spaces and parks.

Egypt has since late March banned prayer gatherings and suspended air traffic among other steps to slow the spread of coronavirus among the country’s 100 million people.

The health ministry has so far recorded 11,719 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 612 fatalities.

On Sunday, the prestigious Islamic institution of Al Azhar urged worshippers to perform the Eid prayers at home.

Madbouli said the measures will be eased following the week of Eid celebrations and the curfew will start at 8 pm from May 30.

“People will be required to wear face masks in public, closed and crowded places,” he said, adding that violators will face penalities, without elaborating.

Egypt has since early May allowed a gradual resumption of some suspended government services.

On Sunday, the premier said the government will announce relaxed restrictions on some activities including sports and the opening of restaurants with precautionary measures from mid-June.

Restaurants have been closed since late March, offering only delivery and take-away services.

Authorities have been carrying out sweeping disinfection operations at archaeological sites, museums and other sites across the country.

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