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The New Arab

Egypt to re-open shopping centres for Ramadan despite an expected alarming hike in coronavirus cases

On March 19, Egypt shut down all restaurants and shopping centres [AFP]

Date of publication: 23 April, 2020

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Stores and shopping centres in Egypt are allowed to re-open for Ramadan, setting the scene for the gradual lifting of the lockdown by the end of the holy month.

Egypt will relax its coronavirus measures for the month of Ramadan, Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli said on Thursday, allowing shopping centres to re-open despite an expected hike in cases.

"We expect a rise in the number of coronavirus infections, which will exceed two hundred cases per day, but life must go on," Madbouli said, emphasising that adherence to prevention measures, such as wearing masks, will still be necessary.

Madbouli said the Egyptian government was keen on keeping the "wheel of the economy turning" in all sectors, and finding a way to "co-exist with the virus", until a vaccine or treatment is found.

Malls and stores could re-open until 5pm daily, while restaurants are allowed to open only for takeaways and deliveries for the Muslim holy month, the official said in a video conference.

Madbouli also pushed back the nightly curfew – effective until dawn – by one hour, setting it at 9pm.

Ramadan, which lasts 29 to 30 days is expected to start on Friday. Madboul said Egypt's government will review the measures in two weeks to decide if they will be kept in place.

Communal activities and group prayers remain banned in Egypt this Ramadan.

After Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the premier said restrictions on movement will gradually be lifted until the lockdown is completely removed.

Read also: 'Have mercy on us': Egyptian medics battle stigma, hostility amid coronavirus crisis

Egypt’s government will also resume essential services, including the processing and issuing of official documents, Madbouli said.

As of Thursday, Egypt has confirmed a total of 3,659 coronavirus infections and 276 deaths caused by the virus. A  World Health Organisation representative in Egypt has said the country needs to boost its testing and keep measures in place to prevent the further spread of the virus. 

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