Life & Leisure

Holidays in Egypt among hazmat suits

By Noemí Jabois

Marsa Matruh (Egypt), Jun 29 (EFE).- As tourists vacate the bus at the entrance of the Carols hotel in the northern Egyptian coastal city of Marsa Matruh, they are approached by a hazmat-suit clad worker who gets busy disinfecting the luggage.

Joining him is a small army of men putting on protective face shields, masks, white boots, caps, and disposable gloves.

A worker hurries to bring a surface covered by a bleach-soaked cloth for the tourist to clean the soles of the shoes with and then checks his temperature.

If cleared, the visitor enters to find many pamphlets explaining in different languages the gems of Marsa Matruh, one of three provinces authorities opened to foreign tourists amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Two receptionists hand out masks and offer hand sanitizer smiling under their masks.

An employee instructs the visitor to use a single-use pen to fill in paperwork before a vacation surrounded by disinfectant and protective gear begins.

In the pool area, employees rigorously clean deck chairs every 15 minutes.

At mealtimes, buffets are banned. Instead, tables and chairs are more spaced out and a QR code notifies the visitor of the menu.

This way “no need even to talk, you know already what is on the menu and start to serve,” says Safwat Gerges, General Manager at the hotel featuring a private beach, pool, several parks, restaurants and bars.

Rooms are disinfected and left empty for at least 24 hours between guests, he adds.

Egypt, which is yet to pass the peak of the outbreak, allowed hotels to reopen a few weeks ago and will start to host foreign tourists in July.

The African country has been reporting around 1,300 daily cases, bringing the total tally to 64,000 cases and 2,700 deaths.

The reopening is regulated by restrictions and protocols, including allowing hotels to only work at 50 percent capacity.

This allows plenty of space for the hotel to alternate empty rooms with occupied ones, according to Gerges.

He admits that the pandemic has had a “huge, huge bad effect” on the business as the high season starts in May.

This year it was delayed, but a group of Italian tourists has made reservations.

“So far, let’s cross our fingers, we have demand because not only us, most of the people they are already stuck in the rooms and want to go outside and enjoy the summer,” he says.

“I believe that resorts like this are more safety than any city, it is open air, sun, space. I believe it is more safe than even our home”

Thermometers and hazmat-suits have become regular features in the post-coronavirus era not only in the Egyptian hotels but also in the citadels, museums and other tourism hotspots.

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