200320 Egypt
People walk in front of closed shops, after Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly ordered all restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, night clubs, shopping malls and shops to shut their doors from 7pm due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Cairo, Egypt March 19, 2020. Cafes in Egypt are set to reopen after three months. Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: Egyptians have received the government’s decision to reopen cafés more than three months after they were shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic with ironic comments, comic photos and videos to express their joy.

Egypt’s social media sites were swept by a wave of comical and cynical interactions regarding the Egyptian government’s decision to operate 25 per cent of each café’s capacity.

Thousands of followers competed in publishing comic images adapted from Egyptian and foreign movie and television dramas, to express the happiness of citizens and café owners with the government’s decision that opens the doors for many to return to these establishments which include entertainment such as live European football matches, starting from Saturday.

Egyptian artists joined in celebrating the decision with comic comments similar to those of actor Majid Al Kadwani, who posted on his Facebook account a scene from the movie “Al Farah” (“The Wedding”), in which he embodied the character of a wedding presenter.

Egyptian actor, Mohamed Heneidi, also posted a comedy clip from the movie “Wesh Igram” (”The Criminal”), commenting on the reaction of the café owners in dealing with the decision of 25 per cent capacity, Heneidi said they will be choosing the customers as per the most expensive drinks ordered.

Sense of humour

Historical events tend to confirm Egyptians always overcome their challenges with a sense of humour.

Many cynical Egyptians expected that café owners will choose only rich customers, while others saw that they will turn away tea drinkers because tea is the cheapest on the price list of tourist cafés, allow fresh juice seekers to offset the lockdown losses.

Some of them posted a picture of the prominent comedian actor Adel Imam, while smoking hookah in a scene from one of his movies.

Others also published a modified image of a large number of young people risking life by sitting on the roof of a train, to show the high demand for cafés.

Egypt on Tuesday significantly eased protocols against the spread of the coronavirus, cancelling the overnight lockdown, reopening mosques and churches and allowing patrons back at restaurants and cafés, but with limited capacity.

Cinemas and theatres will also reopen, but beaches and public parks will remain shut.

Mosques and churches will not be allowed to hold congregational rituals such as Friday prayers or Mass.

Only weekday prayers are allowed in both, provided social distancing rules are observed, the government said.

Restaurants, cinemas and theatres are allowed to operate at 25 per cent capacity, while stores would remain open until 9pm.

The latest orders reflect the government’s strategy of gradually reopening the country to avoid an economic meltdown while seeking to protect the population.

Until a vaccine is developed, authorities want Egyptians to learn to live with the coronavirus while taking precautions such social distancing, diligent hygiene practices and wearing masks in public.

Despite Tuesday’s announcement, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases continues to hover well above 1,000.

It is a worrying trend that officials say would only last until the end of June before the curve begins to level off and flatten by mid-July.

Egyptian journalists and media outlets expressed fear at the increasing COVID-19 infections in the country after the new government decisions, especially after the registration of about 60,000 cases, and the death of about 2,400 people so far, besides the difficulty of applying the protocols on the ground because of the large numbers of cafés in Egypt. But Egypt’s prime minister showed sympathy with its workers because of the interruption of their source of income over the past three months.