Egypt reopens hotels for local tourists with strict conditions

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is allowing hotels to reopen for domestic tourists on condition they operate at no more than 25% capacity until the end of May and implement a range of other health measures to guard against the new coronavirus, the cabinet said on Sunday.

The virus has shut down Egypt’s tourist sector, which accounts for 12%-15% of gross domestic product, leading to losses estimated at $1 billion per month.

The government has suspended international passenger flights and closed hotels, restaurants and cafes, as well as imposed a night curfew.

For hotels to resume operations they must have a clinic with a resident doctor, regularly screen temperatures and install disinfection equipment, the cabinet said in a statement.

Guests must be registered online and workers have to undergo rapid coronavirus tests when entering resorts, while a hotel floor or small building must be assigned as a quarantine area for positive or suspected coronavirus cases.

From June 1, hotels will be allowed to work with‮‮ ‬‬a maximum 50% capacity, the cabinet said.

Resorts are not permitted to host weddings or parties, organise entertainment activities, serve shisha water pipes or offer open buffets. Hotel restaurants will depend instead on pre-set menus and wider spaces between tables.

Egypt, which reported 6,465 coronavirus cases including 429 deaths as of Sunday, has eased its restrictions for the holy fasting month of Ramadan, allowing more businesses to reopen and shortening the night-time curfew.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has said the country would start returning to normal life gradually after Ramadan.

Reporting by Moamen Said Atallah; Writing by Mahmoud Mourad; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Daniel Wallis