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Shop owners not willing to close

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Government plans to close shops at 10 pm is alternately derided, shrugged off, and laughed at

The notion of closing early elicits laughter from shop owners. (PHOTO BY HASSAN IBRAHIM)

The notion of closing early elicits laughter from shop owners. (PHOTO BY HASSAN IBRAHIM)

Monday is the slated start date for a controversial law requested by Prime Minister Hisham Qandil that would require almost all non-tourist centred shops to close at 10 pm.

Of 21 shop owners, managers, and employees interviewed in Cairo on Sunday, 18 stated that they have no intention of closing early on Monday, or any other day for that matter, to comply with the new law. The remaining three establishments already close at 10 pm.

Many places, such as the Expresso Café & Restaurant, the El Maydan Bakery, and Net Café El Telwany said on Sunday that they are 24-hour a day businesses and that is how they will stay. The receptionist at the Net Cafe twirled her index finger in a circle to imply that tomorrow will be business as usual.

The City Drink juice stand also said they are open 24-hours, saying, “Not all people agree with this law.”

A cell-phone vendor across the street said they will continue staying open until 2 am, because “that is our work, all our traffic is at night.”

Two women at a Vodafone retailer said, “no one in our company has told us anything about closing at 10.”

One of the justifications given by the government for the early closure time is to save money on electricity, as Egypt grapples with how to deal with a power crisis. It is hoped that shifting working and shopping hours to the day time would also add a measure of security and order.

This would not be the case, however, if shoppers do not change their habits. Many consumers say the law cannot shift the culture so abruptly.

There is also a threat to the economy. President of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce Ahmed El-Wakil decried the move recently, saying that it would exacerbate Egypt’s unemployment and underemployment problems.

It may be all for nothing, as workers brushed aside the new policy. Ahmed, the assistant manager of a Pizza Hut, said that the restaurant had special permission from the government, but this never came up at other sites. The Yemeni restaurant, koshari restaurant, and super market on Dokki Street simply shrugged off the governmental decision.

The notion of closing early elicited laughter from the manager at El-Omda, and across the street at Taza, the customers joined in with the check-out woman in giggling at the idea.

The worker at the Arab Group Exchange Company said indignantly that he will remain open past ten and added in a few choice words for President Mohammed Morsy, in case anyone was listening.


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