Egypt’s Prime Minister announced on Thursday evening that all public transport options, shops and entertainment facilities, beaches and public parks would be closed during the Sham El-Nessim holiday on Monday 20 April. A separate government statement said it is expected the curfew will run through Ramadan.
The shut down of public transport on Sham El-Nessim will impact all options, including the Cairo metro, public buses and trains.
The Egyptian Prime Minister said that the government remains worried and concerned that Egyptians continue to gather in large groups during the day.
The closures will not take effect during the long weekend, which will also see Egypt’s Coptic Christian population marking Easter, despite fears that many will congregate and use public spaces throughout the weekend.
Sham El-Nessim (which is Arabic for ‘smelling the breeze’) is a national holiday dating back to Ancient Egypt and often sees Egyptians gathering in public spaces for picnics. The holiday falls a day after Coptic Christians celebrate Easter and dates back to 4,500 years ago when it was called Shamo or ‘renewal of life’ in reference to the beginning of the agricultural growing season.
COVID-19 Numbers Continue to Rise, Ramadan Curfew Expected
Despite a night-time curfew between 8PM and 6AM each day, the number of COVID-19 cases in Egypt continues to rise. On Thursday night, Egypt’s Ministry of Health announced the highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases yet, with 168 new positive infections, bringing the total confirmed cases to 2,673.
The number of deaths also continues to rise, with 13 new deaths reported on Thursday. The death toll is now 196.
Meanwhile, the total number of recoveries from the virus has now reached 596.
In a separate statement on Thursday night, Egyptian Government spokesperson Nader Saad said that the nighttime curfew will likely remain in place through the month of Ramada, which is expected to commence on 24 April at the earliest.
The spokesperson also confirmed that the Ramadan tents, which provide food to disadvantaged Egyptians, would not be allowed to operate. Instead, people have been encouraged to donate food boxes and money. Additionally, no entertainment facilities (including eateries and cinemas) will be open during the curfew.
A curfew during Ramadan will be novel for many Muslims, as nighttime during the month is often marked with religious gatherings and social events.