A state of cautious joy prevailed in Egypt as the government lifted the anti-coronavirus measures imposed over the past three months.
Egypt on Saturday lifted a partial nighttime curfew that was imposed in the country since mid-March, amid a coexistence plan to maintain anti-COVID-19 precautionary measures, while resuming economic activities.
The decision includes reopening restaurants, cafes, theaters and cinemas with 25 percent of their capacity, while public beaches and parks will remain closed.
Egypt is expected to resume international flights from July 1 as the country prepares for the return of foreign tourism, after more than three months of international flight suspension over the COVID-19 concerns.
So far, Egypt’s total coronavirus cases reached 63,923, including 2,708 deaths and 17,140 recoveries.
Mustafa al-Ghandour, owner of a gym in Giza province, southwest of Cairo, expressed his happiness at the government’s decision to reopen activities.
“I’m so happy that all businesses are back to normal…this gym is my only source of income,” al-Ghandour told Xinhua.
He stressed that it is necessary to resume economic activities in the country, despite the increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections.
During the economic lockdown, al-Ghandour tried to keep his gym customers by helping them exercise at home through video tips sent online for their fitness.
Speaking about operating his gymnasium with 25 percent of its capacity, al-Ghandour, whose gym has 170 members, explained that 12 people will be allowed in the training hall for an hour, noting that the place will be disinfected before another group starts training.
“I have appointed a person to be responsible for the disinfection of the place,” the young man said.
He called on the government to follow up the implementation of precautionary measures by business owners across the country, noting that violators should be punished so as to avoid a possible closure again.
For his part, Mohammed al-Attar, owner of a coffeeshop from Cairo, was busy preparing his place for the customers who have eagerly waited to watch a football match.
“The closure has cost me much,” al-Attar told Xinhua. “I used to pay my four workers half of their salaries every month. This was a big burden.”
Before reopening the cafe, the man purchased amounts of face masks, gloves and disinfectants to implement precautionary measures instructed by the government.
“The cafe can accommodate up to 150 people, but I will only receive 38 customers, according to the government’s decision of working with 25 percent of the full capacity,” al-Attar said when he was disinfecting tables and chairs lined inside his cafe.
Resuming economic activities and lifting the tough anti-COVID-19 measures was not good news for business owners only, but also for ordinary people.
Ahmed Medhat, a 29-year-old bank employee, said that the government’s decision to lift the measures was “an economic decision in the first place, because businesses could not be closed for longer periods.”
“The Egyptians are addicted to sitting at cafes, and I am one of them. Everyone must now take precautions to protect himself by wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing,” he said.
The young man added that his friends and him will meet in the evening at a cafe, revealing they did not meet for more than three months.
However, some Egyptians opposed the government’s decision to lift the procedures and end the curfew, fearing that such a decision may double the coronavirus infections.
“The number will undoubtedly jump as the restaurants and coffee shops and other places will be overcrowded,” Doaa Osama, a housewife in her 20s, told Xinhua.
She said the government should have waited until there are signs that the numbers are decreasing.
“It is too early to resume normal life. The government should have taken stricter measures, not lifting them,” Osama said as she sprayed her hands with alcoholic disinfectant.