Egypt won’t export face masks until it meets local needs – minister

Egypt will not export its locally manufactured face masks unless it covers the local market’s needs first, its industry minister Nevine Gamea said on Wednesday.

Egypt will make wearing face masks in public places mandatory starting 30 May, with violators facing hefty fines, according to a decree by Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly on Tuesday.

Gamea stressed the ministry’s desire to provide citizens with high-quality masks made of fabric at appropriate prices in line with the state’s phased plan to coexist with the novel coronavirus scheduled to start mid-June.

The minister made her remarks during an expanded meeting with representatives of the textile and garment industry sector and officials in the Ministry of Health to discuss the plan to manufacture the fabric masks and utilise existing textile factories.

She agreed with textile and garment industry sector representatives to begin the immediate manufacture of more cloth mask quantities to meet the needs of the education ministry first, ensuring masks will be available for students by their end-of-year exams.

Later on, the masks will be provided to everyone in conjunction with the state’s plan to gradually re-open some activities that had been suspended for months.

Gamei said that the ministries of trade and health have adopted the required specifications in the production process of the masks, thereby ensuring the highest protection levels, ease of use for more than once, and appropriate costs.

Last week, Egypt’s Ministry of Health announced that it will implement a coexistence plan to deal with the coronavirus pandemic in three stages. The first stage, the ministry said, will be implemented at once, while the second phase will be effective 28 days after the start of the first phase.

The second phase includes a series of general procedures such as checking all people prior to entering public facilities such as metro and train stations and making wearing face masks compulsory for people when leaving their homes. It also involves obliging business owners and malls to place sanitizers at doors, and ordering all commercial establishments to reduce the number of customers on their premises at any given time.

Cinemas, theatres, cafes, and entertainment venues will remain shut during this stage.

The third phase includes a commitment to maintaining good ventilation and prevent any kind of crowding.