When Can You Travel to Egypt Again?: Your Egypt Coronavirus Questions Answered
UPDATE 12th May 2021
From May 17th, Egypt will be placed on the amber travel list. Before you travel back to England you must complete a passenger locator form, take a COVID-19 test, book and pay for day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 travel tests which need to be taken after arrival in England. Then when you return home you must quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days and take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8.
Pyramids! Pharaohs! Mummies! Hieroglyphics! Falafel! We have to be honest with you: we’re missing Egypt. The bad news? We can’t visit just yet. The good news? Egypt is missing us too, and is working hard to reopen their borders.
While you’re going to have to wait just a tad longer before you can walk like an Egyptian, things are definitely looking – and opening – up. Egypt’s airports have been open since 1 July and there are some sweet deals for tourists like yourself to snap up now that borders have officially reopened and international travel is allowed again.
The Latest Egypt News: Is It Safe to Travel to Egypt?
EGYPT'S INITIAL RESPONSE
Egypt closed its borders on 19 March and went into lockdown soon after that. Schools, airports, hotels, restaurants, cafés, bazaars, casinos, clubs, sports events and entertainment facilities were completely closed. Public religious services were also suspended. This curfew has now been shorted to 8:00pm to 4:00am.
Shops were permitted to open, but only for restricted hours: 6:00am to 5:00pm Sundays through Thursdays. These rules didn’t apply to groceries, bakeries and chemists, but those establishments were only allowed to offer delivery services during the restricted hours. Violators of the curfew risked a fine or even imprisonment.
The Great Pyramids of Giza themselves trumpeted the message: Stay home. (So cool. We were not aware the pyramids spoke English.)
The New Three-Phase Initiative: A Renewal of Tourism
Egypt has come up with a three-phase reopening plan, starting with domestic tourism and, ideally, ending with international tourism – that’s you!
PHASE 1 : MAY
Recently a high-level government conference chaired by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and including the country’s ministries of Tourism and Antiquities and Health and Population resulted in plans for a partial reopening of the country, in time for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (23 April to 23 May). The focus was on loosening regulations to allow domestic tourism to resume.
According to Khaled al-Anany, the country’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, as of 15 May Egypt’s resort hotels were reopened, although only at 25% capacity.Since 1 June, they have been allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
But hoteliers can’t just open their doors and beckon people inside. There are stringent rules they must follow. Hotels wishing to reopen have to apply and qualify for a medical certificate and agree to follow World Health Organization regulations pertaining to various aspects of the business: the employees, the restaurants, the beaches, the laundry and so on.
A health clinic and a doctor must be on site, protocols of sterilisation must be followed and employees’ temperatures must be regularly checked for signs of the virus. Face masks must be provided for both guests and employees, disinfectant equipment must be installed on the premises and hotels can accept bookings only though travel agencies that have been vetted by the Health Ministry.
Gasp. But wait, there’s more. (More, perhaps, than you need to know unless you actually operate a hotel in Egypt. But we are committed to getting the facts out there and anyway, who knows? Maybe you do harbour a secret desire to run a hotel in Cairo.)
Hotels must have a dedicated building or floor available for quarantine should a confirmed case of the coronavirus be detected. In such a situation workers at the resort will immediately be retested for the virus.
All hotel rooms must have adequate ventilation and will be thoroughly cleaned and sterilised after each use. An empty room must separate two occupied rooms, and guests will be provided literature on coronavirus infection prevention methods. Nightclubs and casinos will remain closed.
Regular inspections will be undertaken to verify that conditions meet these requirements.
Hotel restaurants may start serving that terrific Egyptian cuisine again, but alas, there will be no open buffets, only set menus. Social distancing rules will be enforced. (Which might be a good thing because honestly, that guy over there? Didn’t his mum teach him table manners?)
All this is pretty demanding stuff, and we applaud hoteliers for taking it on.
Hotel guests also have to follow certain rules. Upon arrival, their temperatures will be checked. There will be no parties, no weddings and no activities that take place at night. (Concerning that last point, we assume they mean group activities that take place in public places at night, because surely no hotel anywhere in the world, coronavirus or no coronavirus, is going to require that you refrain from evening activities you may wish to undertake in the privacy of your own room.)
PHASE 2: 27 JUNE
There hasn’t been much officially said about which phase Egypt is in since the plan was initially released. However, we’re speculating that, as of 27 June, phase one was completed and phase two began. Why do we think this, you ask? Easy - lockdown restrictions significantly loosened, giving Egyptians more well-deserved freedoms.
Perhaps the biggest change is that the night curfew has officially been lifted. Restaurants and cafes are now allowed to reopen at 25% capacity (you can hear foodies all over Egypt sighing in relief), but must shut their doors at 10pm each night. Cinemas and theatres are back in business again as well - but, of course, at a reduced capacity. Churches and mosques are now open for daily praying but not for end-of-week prayers or services.
Public transport is up and running again now, but will be suspended from midnight until 4am (hey, better that than 12pm to 4pm, we say!). Beaches and parks, however, will remain shut - so no picnics or sunbathing in public just yet.
As expected, Egyptians must take precautions such as social distancing, diligent hygiene practices and wearing masks in public.
The prime minister has warned that these freedoms could be revoked if people do not follow the rules - so here’s hoping they do!
Initially, it was expected that once phase two was set in motion, it would last for 28 days - it looks like we will have to wait and see if that is true.
The third and final phase will have the lightest precautions. At this time, only individuals who have underlying health conditions will be required to wear face masks while out in public. It is also expected that workplaces will resume functioning normally, although schools, universities and entertainment venues will remain closed.
Phase three will last until there are further updates and instructions from the World Health Organization.
Governments across the globe are facing the same dilemma: how to balance health concerns with economic considerations. Egypt's Minister of Health, Hala Zayed, is satisfied that the safety measures being taken are sufficient and appropriate: “During the coming period the world will be gradually restoring normalcy while applying precautionary measures.”
Dr Baheyeddin Moursy, a former consultant to the Ministry of Health agrees that it is necessary to break “the cycle of economic collapse” and attempt a return to normalcy to bring back the “confidence to restore life”. And the way to do that is to begin reopening the tourism sector.
When Will International Travel Resume?
This answer is still up in the air. While the Egyptian government reopened their airports on 1 July, allowing for international beach resort tourism once more, the UK government continues to advise against all but essential travel. And once you return back to the UK after your trip, you will have to self-isolate for 14 days. It looks like it’s best to hold off on booking your holiday for the time being… but we’ve got our fingers crossed that Egypt will be added to the list of government-approved travel corridors soon!
Tourists (that’s you!) on charter flights will be able to fly into three governorates - the Red Sea, South Sinai and Matrouh - while businesspeople - such as those who want to fly into the country to check on companies they’ve invested in - will be able to go just about anywhere they need to. All countries who have reopened their airspace will be allowed in, but travellers will not be able to move between governorates once they have arrived.
Safety precautions will be put in place for travellers. Be prepared to fill out a traveller declaration form (as expected this is a questionnaire that will ask you about things such as your recent travels, if you’ve had any exposure to COVID lately and more). You must also have a PCR test that proves you are free from COVID-19, unless you are coming into the country via direct flights to the airports of Sharm el-Sheikh, Taba, Hurghada, Marsa Alam and Marsa Matrouh .
While on your plane to Egypt, expect cleanliness - and lots of it! Face masks will be mandatory, planes will be sterilised within an inch of their lives before and after each flight and the last two rows of the plane will be allocated to passengers showing symptoms of illness during the flight.
Once you touch down on Egyptian soil, your temperature will be checked before you are allowed into the country and you will have to continue wearing your face mask in the airport.
Expect frequent temperature checks, mandatory face masks, social distancing, reduced tour groups and more as you explore the country, take public transportation and go on excursions.
So What’s the Forecast?
The short answer: Sunny with a side of savings!
The long answer: Egyptian authorities have been welcoming international guests on holidays to Egypt since 1 July. They were more than eager to open their borders and begin allowing tourists in again.
What does this mean for you? A discount! As an incentive for people to travel to Egypt as soon as it’s possible, the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board announced that the price of the entry visa for the Aswan and Luxor airports was reduced by about £8 for the month of June. As of 1 July, all tourist visas have been waived until 31 October.
Additionally, museums and archaeological sites will reopen gradually in July and entrance tickets will be discounted. Once they reopen, they will be held to high hygiene standards (oh, you know the drill by now - frequent thorough cleaning, proper ventilation, face masks, frequent temperature checks for staff, not too many visitors at a time, social distancing and so on and so forth), from the toilets to the lifts. Sounds good to us!
So far, the Egyptian Museum and the Giza Pyramids, both in Cairo, are back up and running.
Will Egypt holidays be possible in 2020 for Brits? We definitely hope so and so does Egypt!
Strong as the Pyramids, Fluid as the Nile
We love Egypt for its history and for its holidays: beach holidays, romantic holidays, family holidays, exotic holidays, cheap holidays. Even camel-riding holidays, if that’s your thing.
And Egypt loves us, probably just for our loveable selves but definitely for the loveable pounds we spend there.
As one of the world’s oldest civilisations, Egypt has seen a lot. Conquerors come – conquerors go. Bad times come – bad times go. Egypt takes it all in stride. And when you're 5,000 years old, maybe you’ll be that stoic too. Until then, please visit our blog for regular updates of facts and hopes.