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Scepticism as Egypt's cafes and restaurants open for business

A waiter carries an order at a cafe in the Egyptian capital Cairo on 27 June 2020, after authorities relaxed the lockdown measures in place to curb the spread of coronavirus. - A night-time curfew was imposed in late March restricting movement from 8 pm to 6 am, but it has been eased in recent weeks. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli said cafes and restaurants will restart operations at a reduced capacity of 25 percent in the first phase of relaxing the lockdown. [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP via Getty Images]
A waiter carries an order at a cafe in the Egyptian capital Cairo on 27 June 2020, after authorities relaxed the lockdown measures in place to curb the spread of coronavirus [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP via Getty Images]

Egypt has opened its cafes and restaurants as authorities move to reopen the country after three months with new guidelines.

Venues check customers' temperatures and ask them to sanitise their hands as they enter.

Authorities have issued a 25 per cent occupancy limit yet some venues report only having ten per cent of their customers.

Shisha bars have been banned and although mosques have reopened, they will not be open for Friday prayers, when larger crowds attend.

Churches are allowed limited services excluding Sunday mass and the night time curfew has also been lifted.

EgyptAir has said it will resume flights to 24 destinations during the first week of July and also domestic flights to the tourist hotspots Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, Luxor and Aswan.

The national carrier is expected to operate at 20-30 per cent capacity and is looking for a three billion Egyptian pound ($186.10 million) loan to see it through the COVID era.

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As part of measures to help mitigate the covid crisis, Egypt shut its airports in March and grounded almost all international flights which meant the tourism industry, a major source of revenue for the country, took a big hit.

Measures to open up cafes, cinemas, clubs and gyms has been criticised amid concerns that the government does not have the virus under control.

Only last month the medical union warned that the healthcare system was about to collapse due to years of chronic underfunding and the lack of adequate PPE available to doctors.

Egypt has officially recorded 65,188 infections and 2,789 deaths, however, experts have warned that the real figures are likely to be far higher due to lack of tests and government efforts to suppress the numbers.

Authorities have arrested doctors and journalists who challenge the government narrative on the pandemic.

The Egyptian government is pressing ahead with plans to coexist with the virus in a bid to save it's ailing economy.

Some 60 per cent of Egyptians are either poor or vulnerable and the covid crisis has exacerbated this.

The IMF has just approved another loan of $5.2 billion for Egypt, on top of the $2.8 billion already promised to mitigate the economic effects of the virus.

The austerity measures rolled out under a 2016 $12 billion IMF loan caused excruciating circumstances for ordinary Egyptians who struggled to meet the rising costs of fuel, electricity and food as subsidies were slashed.

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