Egyptians celebrate New Year at home as coronavirus cases spike

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Fireworks light up Tahya Misr Bridge during New Year celebrations in Cairo, Egypt, on Jan. 1, 2021. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

Mina Atta, a 43-year-old Egyptian, had plans to celebrate the New Year in the country’s renowned Sharm el-Sheikh resort on the Red Sea. However, he will celebrate at home after the government’s decision to cancel all New Year’s celebrations nationwide to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly ordered on Dec. 27, 2020 the cancellation of all New Year celebrations, urging authorities to strictly enforce the mask mandate that applies to all public transportation and indoor public spaces.
Madbouly ordered an on-spot fine of EGP 50 ($3.18) for all violators who do not apply the precautionary measures and do not wear face masks starting Jan. 3, 2021.
Egypt is currently going through the second wave of the virus, according to Dr. Mohamed Awad Taj al-Din, advisor to the Egyptian President for Health and Prevention Affairs.
Egypt has witnessed a sudden spike in virus infections in recent weeks. It reported 1,418 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, raising the total number of infections in the North African country to 138,062, with a death toll of 7,631.
“I decided to celebrate at home, and I bought all our needs to observe the occasion with my family,” Atta, a jewelry store owner, told Xinhua.
He added celebrating the New Year, even if at home, is an important custom, noting that this would help his family and him reduce the state of depression they have gone through in 2020 due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Atta praised the government’s decision to cancel the New Year celebrations, noting that this would help avoid more infections as so many parties and festivals are usually held on this occasion.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Moussa, 38, an accountant with a private company, said the government’s decision to cancel celebrations is very wise.
“Restaurants, cinemas, cafes, nightclubs and hotels are always busy on the New Year. Canceling the celebrations will protect tens of thousands of people,” he told Xinhua.
Like Atta, Moussa said he will celebrate the New Year at home with his family.
“I will watch a movie and eat cakes,” the middle-aged man said, adding that it is the safest way to celebrate the occasion.
He hoped that the epidemic would end as soon as possible and life would return to normal.
The cancellation of the New Year celebrations has negatively affected business owners, mainly owners of gift shops and nightclubs.
“We have waited for this day because it is usually well observed by the majority of Egyptians,” Ibrahim Atwa, a 31-year-old owner of a nightclub told Xinhua.
He added that the government’s decision to cancel the celebrations will inflict him great losses as he has been preparing for this day since the beginning of December.
However, Atwa stressed that he fully backs the government’s measures which will definitely help reduce the spread of the virus.

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