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Coronavirus: Egypt to allow international tourism in some coastal cities from July

Tourism is a major source of income and employment in Egypt, but the whole sector has been shut down by the pandemic
The resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab, Hurghada and Marsa Alam are expected to be reopened for tourists from 1 July (AFP)

Egypt is set to allow international flights and tourists to a number of coastal cities from the beginning of July for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown began in March.

Authorities will reopen the southern Sinai region, where the resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh and Dahab are located, and Red Sea province, home to the Hurghada and Marsa Alam resorts, as well as Marsa Matrouh on the Mediterranean, a cabinet statement said Thursday.

The areas due to reopen have been least affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which has taken the lives of at least 1,342 Egyptians and infected 38,284 as of Wednesday. 

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Airports remain closed to all but domestic and repatriation flights, but hotels were last month allowed to reopen for domestic tourists at reduced capacity if they met strict health protocols.

The pandemic has shut down Egypt's tourism sector, which has long been one of the country's major sources of income.

Egypt also announced the relaxation of some restrictions over the next two weeks, including reducing the nighttime curfew by an hour. Shop hours will be extended by an hour.

Egypt is also considering reopening mosques in its least affected provinces starting from 1 July and will hold end-of-year exams for high school students in their final year, as scheduled later this month, information minister Osama Heikal told a televised briefing.

Public beaches and parks will remain shut until the end of June, he added.