Parliament has approved by a two-thirds majority a new law making the wearing of face masks in public obligatory for all citizens.
Citizens who do not commit to wearing face masks will be punished by a fine of EGP 300-5,000.
The wearing of face masks in public is to curb the further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), as Egypt comes up to a gradual reopening as part of its plan to coexist with the virus.
In a session on Wednesday, parliament approved draft amendments to some provisions of Law No 137 of 1908 regulating the precautionary measures for preventing infectious diseases. The draft was submitted by Health Affairs Committee Head Mohamed Al-Amary and other Members of Parliament (MPs).
The amendments give the Ministry of Health new powers to enhance its ability to curb the spread of the virus. This includes allowing authorities to enforce the wearing of face masks in public, as well as other preventive measures should this be deemed necessary.
The amendments also give Egypt’s health authorities the power to set rules and health measures regarding the handling of those who have died from the virus. Burial has to take place under the supervision of the relevant health authorities, whilst respecting the dignity of the dead and ensuring no contamination takes place.
The draft criminalises any acts of obstruction, disruption or the prevention of coronavirus-related burials. Anyone involved in a burial that does not follow the Ministry of Health’s instructions will face imprisonment and a fine of EGP 5,000-10,000. The penalty will be maximised if violence or force was used.
Last week, the government renewed the nationwide night-time curfew, shortening it by one hour for the rest of June, and will now take place from 20:00 to 4:00. Since the beginning of June, wearing face masks in public has been obligatory in all public areas, including markets, shops, banks, public and private installations, and public transport.