(Apr. 3, 2020) With the number of people in Egypt infected with the coronavirus nearing 1,000 during the month of March 2020, the prime minister of Egypt, Mostafa Madbouly, held a press conference on March 24 to announce a number of preventive measures effective for a period of 15 days to curb the outbreak of COVID-19.
Those measures are as follows:
- A curfew covering the entire Republic of Egypt will be imposed from 7:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m, during which no public or private transportation services will operate. Violators are punishable by either a fine of 4,000 Egyptian pounds (about US$253) or a term of imprisonment of up to three years.
- All nonessential stores must close between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. during weekdays and remain closed 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays (the Egyptian weekend). This measure does not apply to essential stores, such as supermarkets, grocery shops, and pharmacies.
- All restaurants, cafes, and movie theaters must shut down.
- All civil service departments in the government must shut down, except for those operating in the health sector.
- Gymnastics centers and sports/social clubs must shut down.
- Schools and universities will be closed for two weeks.
The Ministry of Health has also established two hotlines to provide psychological support for citizens staying at home during the curfew. The secretary general of the Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Department at the Ministry of Health, Menan Abdel Maksoud, announced that a total of 150 mental health specialists had been trained online on how to remotely communicate with individuals who need psychological support during the curfew.
Two days before the prime minister’s press conference, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced that he had made an array of decisions to ease the financial burden on citizens during the COVID-19 crisis, which included the following:
- Allocating 100 billion Egyptian pounds (about US$6.3 billion) for the Ministry of Health to enhance measures to combat the outbreak
- Allowing businesses to pay only 10% of taxes due
- Reducing the interest rates at the Central Bank by 3%
- Postponing loan repayments for small, medium, and micro enterprises for a period of six months
- Allocating 20 billion Egyptian pounds (about US$1.3 billion) from the Central Bank to support the Egyptian Stock Exchange
- Suspending the agricultural land tax for two years