July 7, 2020

Vacation between astronauts and disinfectant in Egypt



As soon as you get off the bus at the entrance to the Carols hotel in Marsa Matruh, a spa town on the north coast of Egypt, the tourist is approached by a man who looks like he came out of an astronaut movie and sprays his suitcases with a sort of sulfator. loaded with disinfectant.

Alongside the man dressed as one of the Apollo 13 passengers in a suit that covers him from head to toe, there is a small army of individuals with faces covered by a large plastic screen, white robes, caps, masks, and disposable gloves.

On the right, one of them gestures towards a surface covered by a white cloth impregnated with bleach, in which the visitor must clean the soles of his shoes and then be shot in the forehead with a pistol-shaped thermometer.

“Pass”. The host does not have a fever. The man enters and comes across a small table full of pamphlets that reveal the secrets of Marsa Matruh, one of the tourist enclaves that the authorities have reopened in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, in various languages.

Two receptionists hand out face masks and offer a splash of disinfectant behind the counter, smiles hidden under blue throw-away fabrics.

“No, take the pen from that other bottle,” says one of them, alarmed, explaining that the pens are also to be used and thrown away.

After signing, the holidays between astronauts and disinfectants begin.

WITHOUT BUFFES AND WITH OPTIMISM

The disinfectant is ubiquitous. When calling the elevator, there is a dispenser. Upon entering the room, you receive envelopes. And as you sit in the lobby, pots await you at every table.

In the pool area, employees carefully clean each lounger every 15 minutes.

At dinner time, the usual beach tourism buffets are missing, the chairs are further apart than normal and a QR code informs the visitor of the menu that will be served tonight.

In this way, “there is no need to speak, you know what the menu is and you start serving,” Safwat Gerges, managing director of this complex with a private beach, pool and a large number of gardens, restaurants and bars, explains to Efe. .

He states that in the Carols they spray the rooms with disinfectant and keep them empty for at least 24 hours upon the departure of each guest.

The authorities of Egypt, a country that is still at the peak of contagions with about 1,300 cases a day for a total of 64,000 cases and 2,700 deaths, began to allow the reopening of hotels a few weeks ago and from July they will be open to the international public.

That yes there is a wide relation of limits and protocols, among them that they are only allowed to occupy 50% of its capacity, for which Gerges explains that there is “a lot of space” and the empty rooms are alternated with the occupied ones for a touch extra social distancing.

He acknowledges that the pandemic has had a “huge, huge bad effect” on the business, whose peak season generally begins in May. This year has been delayed, but they already have reservations for the end of the month from Italian tourist groups.

“For now, let’s cross our fingers, we are in demand because not only us, most people are trapped in their rooms and want to go outside and enjoy the summer. Resorts like these are safer than any city, they have the outdoors, sun and space, I think it is safer even than our houses, “he concluded.

MUSEUMS

Guns to take fever and astronauts with sprayers have become the new postcoronavirus tonic, not only in Egyptian hotels, but also in citadels, museums and other tourist attractions.

In order to discover the intricate crowns and necklaces covered in precious stones, the gold medals and binoculars of the Egyptian royalty in the Royal Jewelry Museum of northern Alexandria it is mandatory to put on the mask.

A heavyset lady gives each visitor a pair of blue plastic baby booties, like the ones in the operating room, and she won’t let her set foot in Princess Fatma El Zahraa’s palace until she has her shoes well covered with them.

Round stickers placed on the floor in corridors and at the foot of the showcases remind the visitor to keep a distance of at least two meters with the rest of the people in the room, whose number will, of course, be reduced.

As Egy Hamdy, curator of the museum, explains to Efe, the facilities reopened on June 28 after a three-month hiatus due to the pandemic and they are taking strict measures such as taking fever to everyone and exposing lists with specialized coronavirus hospitals in Alexandria. .

“Anyone who enters the museum has to wear gloves and a mask and (pour) alcohol, and cover their shoes,” said the curator.

And that’s when the visitor himself begins to look like astronauts.

Naomi Jabois

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