Travelling to Egypt during the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s what you need to know
A guide to everything visitors need to know as airports in Egypt reopen to international passenger flights
Airports across Egypt reopened on Wednesday, with international commercial flights allowed in and out of the country.
Travel into Egypt has been restricted since airports closed in March, but in an effort to restart the tourism industry, authorities are once again welcoming international passenger flights at airports across the country.
If you're planning a visit, you might be interested to learn that Egypt has been awarded a Safe Travels Stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council. This certification is bestowed on destinations that have adopted new protocols to protect the health of travellers.
Egypt also has some new tourist incentives in place. Visitors heading to the Red Sea, South Sinai, Matrouh, Luxor and Aswan are now exempt from purchasing visas. Instead, these travellers will be given a free 15-day tourism visa upon arrival. All other tourists must still apply for the relevant visa.
What rules are in place at airports?
All passengers arriving in Egypt must fill out a travel declaration and have valid international medical insurance for the duration of their stay.
At Cairo International Airport, the country’s principal hub, face masks are compulsory and social distancing signage has been installed to help travellers respect safety measures. Similar protocols are in place at all other airports as operations gradually resume. EgyptAir, the country's national airline, is set to transport around 2,000 passengers on 14 international flights on the first day that commercial flights resume.
Arriving travellers should expect to be temperature checked upon arrival, but no routine PCR tests will take place.
Earlier reports suggested passengers arriving from destinations where Covid-19 cases were high may need to submit negative test results before landing in Egypt, but there have been no further measures introduced on this front.
Passengers’ bags will be disinfected before being loaded on to luggage conveyor belts for collection, so there may be additional wait times.
Which airlines are flying to Egypt?
Several airlines are flying direct to Egypt from the UAE. Emirates has resumed flights to Cairo from Wednesday, July 1, and will operate daily services to the Egyptian capital. Economy return fares start from Dh2,225.
Flydubai is flying direct from Dubai to Alexandria, with three flights per week. Return fares for the four-hour journey start from Dh1,990 in economy class.
From Sharjah, Air Arabia is flying to Alexandria and Cairo. Return flights to Borg El Arab start from Dh1,855, while fares to the Egyptian capital run from Dh1,200.
Etihad will resume flights to Cairo from Abu Dhabi from Thursday, July 16.
EgyptAir is flying from Cairo to Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and from Alexandria to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Tourists arriving on any EgyptAir flight can get a 20 per cent discount on entry prices to several archaeological sites and museums in the country.
Are hotels in Egypt open?
Only hotels that have been given a Hygiene Safety certificate by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Ministry of Health have reopened.
In Cairo, several hotels have been allowed to welcome travellers including the Kempinski Nile Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza and Horus House Hotel. Luxor’s Winter Palace and the Old Cataract in Aswan are also hosting guests again, as is the New Continental Port Said Hotel. In popular seaside destinations, many resorts have reopened including Eden Rock, Sea Beach and the Monte Carlo Sharm Al Sheikh.
Travellers checking in to any hotel in Egypt will have their temperature checked. There are restrictions on how many people can sleep in one room, with a maximum of two adults and two children, no matter how large the suite. All guests are provided with personal protective kits containing hand sanitiser and face masks.
Most swimming pools and beaches at tourist hotels are open – sunbeds are socially distanced and guests must bring towels from their rooms. Jacuzzis, saunas, steam rooms and spas are still closed.
Every hotel in Egypt must have a designated floor or area where any traveller with suspected Covid-19 symptoms can isolate. If any travellers test positive for the virus while there, the hotel will cover additional costs of lodging, food and drinks.
What can and can’t I do in Egypt?
After months of restrictions and curfews, things have somewhat returned to status quo after the government ended a three-month night-time curfew.
Several museums and tourists sites have reopened including the famed Giza Pyramids in Cairo – the first time they've been open since March.
Restaurants and cafes are allowed to operate with enhanced hygiene standards that include temperature checks, obligatory pre-booking and no open buffets. There’s also a maximum of six people per table, so if you are a bigger group, you’ll need to book two tables.
At tourist resorts, travellers can try water sports, diving and snorkelling, which are operating with reduced capacity. Boat trips are also allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity and with obligatory face masks. The same goes for desert safaris. Most public beaches and parks remain closed.
More than 20 museums and tourist sites have already received their first foreign visitors. These include the Citadel of Saladin in Cairo, as well as the ancient temple of Karnak and the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor. Baron’s Palace in Cairo has opened for the first time in decades after restoration work was finished in the last few months. Visitors to the 20th-century museum must wear face masks and keep a safe distance.
Tourist numbers have been capped at all museums and archaeological sites. The Egyptian Museum in Tahrir can accommodate 200 visitors per hour, while all other museums have a limit of 100 people per hour. Tombs and pyramids can hold a maximum of 10 to 15 people inside at one time.
Updated: July 1, 2020 04:18 PM