Egypt declares full nationwide lock-down, night time curfew
The lockdown will begin on Wednesday evening, and all forms of movement, including public and private transport, will be halted "from 7pm to 6am", Mustafa Kamal Madbouli told a Tuesday press conference
Those who contravene the measures can expect to face hefty legal consequences, including a fine of up to 4000 Egyptian pounds, as well as a possible prison sentence.
All shops and restaurant were also shut as part of the measures, other than those who offer home delivery services, while gyms and nightclubs were ordered to close.
While grocery stores and pharmacies were except, Madbouli said that malls and shops selling more than basic goods would have to close their doors by 5pm on weekdays, remaining shut over the Friday-Saturday weekend.
The measures build on the earlier closure of schools and universities, in addition to a halt on air traffic, as authorities scramble to contain the spread of COVID-19 among the country’s 100 million population.
Madbouli, addressing reporters, send a harsh warning to potential violators:
"Under emergency law, we will punish all those who defy these measures. We want everyone to know that there is more stringent action we can take if these measures are not abided by."
Early on Tuesday, police moved swiftly to disperse dozens of demonstrators who had attempted to hold overnight marches in the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria.
Footage posted on Twitter showed marchers chanting: "God is greatest" and "May God rescue us from this plague".
Egypt's interior ministry, which oversees the police, said it had arrested "a number" of organisers of the Alexandria gathering, but did not elaborate on how many, according to AP.
Dar Al-Ifta, Egypt's institution for issuing religious edicts, condemned such protests as "malicious" and "forbidden" under Islamic law.
The institution urged Egyptians to comply with government measures against the spread of the virus.
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi first touched on the rapid surge of Coronavirus in the Middle East's most populous country in a meeting with various ministers on Sunday, despite keeping hush on the issue on televised daily meetings with officials, according to The New Arab’s Arabic language sister-site.
Agencies contributed to this report.