May 21, 2020 / 1:03 PM / in 11 days

Egyptians rush to buy treats before Eid al-Fitr curfew

CAIRO (Reuters) - Families rushed to buy sweets and biscuits in Cairo as they prepared to celebrate the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan under a tightened coronavirus curfew and lockdown.

People wait outside a bakery and pastry shop named "The Baker" and known as "El Khabaz", for traditional Eid al-Fitr festivities sweets and biscuits, amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Cairo suburb of Maadi, Egypt May 21, 2020. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

The Eid al-Fitr festivities are usually a time of release when people pack the streets and visit families, cafes and restaurants.

But this year, authorities are bringing forward the start of the existing coronavirus curfew by four hours to 5 p.m. and banning all public transport for six days from Sunday as they try to contain the pandemic.

Shoppers, many wearing masks, said celebrations will be much quieter - restrictions had already made it difficult for families to meet for fast-breaking at sunset during Ramadan.

“We will not see our siblings, loved ones and friends,” said Hoda Mahmoud, 53, standing outside a shop with a bag of biscuits.

“We used to go out and have fun at cafes, but now we are being careful, taking care of ourselves.”

Egypt confirmed 745 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, the highest daily increase yet.

“There is an evening curfew and everyone’s errands are now in the morning,” said Ali Mohamed, a 26-year-old civil engineer. At night, he added, “we all disappear.”

The timing of Eid al-Fitr depends on the sighting of the moon but it is widely expected to start on Sunday.

Shops, restaurants, parks and beaches will also be closed for the holiday, which has been extended from three to six days under the coronavirus measures.

(This story corrects to remove reference to Friday in paragraph 1)

Reporting by Ahmed Fahmy; Writing by Nadeen Ebrahim; Editing by Andrew Heavens; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Andrew Heavens

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