Egypt’s airports will reopen to international flights on July 1 after they were shut down in March to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the civil aviation minister said late Sunday.
Domestic flights have been allowed inside the country, but otherwise it has been cut off from the rest of the world as it struggles to bring its coronavirus outbreak under control.
Mohamed Manar Anba said tourism would be restricted to coastal provinces that have had very low rates of coronavirus infections, including southern Sinai and the resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh, as well as the resort of Hurghada on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. The northwest Mediterranean coast will also be open for tourists.
Egypt’s outbreak has been largely confined to large, crowded cities such as the capital, Cairo.
The pandemic has struck a devastating blow to Egypt’s tourism industry, which contributes up to 15 percent of the country’s economic output if indirect jobs linked to the sector are included.
Flights will not have printed publications on board and will serve only dry food and canned drinks, the minister said at the news conference. Since June 1, hotels have been restricted to operating at 50 percent capacity.
Despite the moves to open the economy, Egypt appears to be in a particularly severe phase of its outbreak, with a steady increase in the daily toll of cases since the end of the fasting month of Ramadan in late May.
More than half of the country’s 44,598 cases were found since the beginning of the month, and in the past three days, record numbers of cases exceeding 1,600 daily have been recorded.