(CNN)Dozens of actors and film crew members crammed into a small hair salon in an upscale Cairo neighborhood in early April. They were racing to finish filming a TV serial scheduled to premiere during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts next week.
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The narrow streets of the Egyptian capital were a beehive of activity with dozens of crew members moving up and down the road or resting on plastic chairs on the sidewalks.
In previous years, the crowd, the six trucks and 32 vehicles lining the surrounding streets would have attracted passers-by hoping to see their favorite film stars. It is a common sight in the weeks before Ramadan, a high season for TV, when crews work 16-20 hour days to meet their deadlines.
But at a time when Egypt is observing a partial curfew to stem the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, concerned neighbors were alarmed to see a big crowd ignoring social distancing guidelines and called the police. That day officers showed up to the set seven times but everything they were doing was perfectly legal, Ahmed Yehia, a producer working on the serial, told CNN.
Yehia works on a comedy, but his experience is representative of the Egyptian pre-Ramadan film industry.
Egypt's government advises against activities involving crowds and only imposes fines on those violating the curfew, which was 7pm-6am initially. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, who promised cash handouts to workers impacted by the virus, said in a televised speech last week that he did not want to completely "suspend work completely in all sectors."