Travelling to Egypt during the COVID-19 pandemic
It is an understatement to say that 2020 has been an unusual year for travelling and the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has meant that many countries have imposed entry restrictions on international passengers.
In many cases, visitors arriving from certain countries have been banned outright, while others have required incoming travellers to be tested. Like many other countries, Egypt COVID travel restrictions have changed several times over the year as the situation has progressed.
Can you go to Egypt at present? Is it possible to visit this ancient country in the age of coronavirus? Read on to find out.
Can you fly to Egypt during the pandemic?
Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, Egypt stopped all international flights, with the exception of repatriating its own citizens. This meant that, for a time, it was impossible to fly to the country as a foreign national.
As of November 2020, commercial flights to Egypt are operating, meaning that you can now fly to the North African nation. However, you will have to comply with certain extra entry regulations to be allowed through border control.
You should also bear in mind that the situation may change in the future. If Egypt experiences another significant rise in coronavirus cases, authorities may decide to suspend flights again. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly check entry restrictions before travelling anywhere during the pandemic.
What do you need to enter Egypt in the era of COVID?
With commercial flights once again available, you can book a ticket and head to Egypt, but you will need a few additional items to actually enter the country.
Like many other countries, Egypt now asks all arriving travellers to complete a form with your details as part of the country’s efforts to keep track of potential sources of the virus.
If you’re planning a trip to Egypt, remember to fill out this “Public Health Card” before arriving at border control. Once you disembark, you must present it to immigration before they will allow you to enter the country.
You must also take a COVID-19 test before travelling to Egypt. The specifics of this test vary depending on the country you arrive from.
Coronavirus test for visiting Egypt
Every international traveller arriving in Egypt now has to have a printed medical certificate issued by an accredited laboratory to prove that they are free of COVID-19.
You can get one of these by taking a coronavirus RT-PCR test at one of these labs prior to the trip.
Passengers on flights arriving from most countries must take the test within 72 hours before their flight leaves.
However, if you are flying from one of the following countries, you can take the test up to 96 hours before departure:
- France (Paris only)
- Germany (Frankfurt only)
- New Zealand
- UK (Heathrow only)
The laboratory should provide you with a certificate showing your test result. It should also specify the type of sample taken during the swab. As long as you test negative, you’ll be able to enter Egypt.
If you arrive at certain Egyptian airports without a printed certificate that meets these specifications, you will be tested there and then with a PCR test that you will have to pay for yourself, so it is highly recommended to get one done beforehand. The airports in question include Hurghada (HRG), Marsa Alam (RMF), Sharm El Sheik (SSH), and Taba (TCP).
If you are travelling with children, it is worth knowing that kids under the age of 6 do not need the certificate or test.
Is it safe to travel to Egypt currently?
International travel during the pandemic is thought to carry an increased risk of exposure to coronavirus, since you may come in contact with more people in enclosed spaces, such as an aeroplane.
That said, many people have avoided going abroad this year, meaning that many flights have relatively few passengers. This makes it easier to maintain social distancing by spreading out around the aircraft.
It is also thought that the air filtration and circulation systems on planes make it harder for the virus to spread, meaning that the risk may be lower than it seems at face value.
In addition, during October and November 2020, COVID-19 cases in Egypt have been relatively low.
A number of authorities advise against unnecessary travel. It is particularly not recommended if you are high-risk due to your age or an underlying health condition.
At the end of the day, it is up to you to weigh up the risks and benefits of travelling to Egypt and make an informed decision.
Why visit Egypt?
Egypt is an incredible destination. A land steeped in ancient history, the allure of the Valley of the Kings and the Pyramids of Giza brings thousands of visitors each year. In a country made up mostly of desert, most of the major cities and key locations are centered on the fertile Nile Valley and the coasts of the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
It is a multifaceted country where you can explore ancient ruins, relax at a world-class beach resort, or visit bustling market places. There are also many unforgettable outdoor activities in Egypt – go quad-biking over the sand dunes of the Sahara, dive among coral reefs, or take a hot air balloon ride over the tombs of the pharaohs.
Currently, some locations may be closed and activities may be suspended due to coronavirus, while others remain open.
Despite the COVID-19 situation, there is so much to see and do in Egypt that it is well worth a visit. Once the pandemic is over and global travel begins to normalise again, it will become much easier to experience this historic country.