Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Authorities in Morocco ease several COVID-19-related restrictions as of July 21; state of health emergency in place through Aug. 10.
- Alert Begins: 22 Jul 2020 02:29 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 15 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Transport and business disruptions, heightened security
Authorities in Morocco have eased a series of restrictions related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of July 21. Hotels can begin operating at full capacity, while intercity transport companies can do so at 75 percent capacity. Restaurants and sports clubs can operate at 50 percent capacity, and sports events can occur without fans. Authorities have also allowed gatherings of more than 20 people; however, weddings, funerals, movie theaters, and public swimming pools will remain banned until further notice.
Despite easing some measures, authorities regularly impose restrictions on cities and regions that experience an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases. Officials reimposed a series of restrictions COVID-19 in Tangier, July 14, due to an increase in COVID-19 activity, and suspended all public transport to and from the city until further notice. Officials will only allow residents in Tangier the freedom of movement upon obtaining a special permit from authorities.
Authorities also previously reimposed a series of restrictions in Safi, Marrakesh-Safi Region. The measure requires businesses in Safi to close by 1800 and cafes and restaurants by 2000 daily. Officials are also isolating and quarantining areas with higher COVID-19 activity. Authorities extended the health state of emergency through at least Aug. 10; the measure allows them to enforce the lockdown measures that are in place in different regions throughout the country.
Officials allowed domestic flights and public transport, including trains and buses, to resume nationwide June 25. They have also designated some provinces as Zone 1 and Zone 2, according to COVID-19 activity. Zone 1 includes cities and regions, including Rabat and Casablanca, where authorities have eased COVID-19 restrictions due to lesser disease activity. Residents can leave their homes without a permit and access public spaces, such as parks and gardens. All residents, however, must carry their national identity cards at all times. Authorities also allowed the resumption of some commercial activities, such as restaurants, cafes, hotels, beaches, and public baths; all businesses must operate at 50 percent capacity and observe the country's social distancing guidelines.
Zone 2 includes cities and regions, such as Marrakesh, where authorities have eased only some restrictions. Residents can travel within the cities and areas they are living in without a movement permit. People who wish to travel outside must obtain a permit from local authorities.
Other measures taken by the government of Morocco include:
- Suspension of international passenger flights until further notice; emergency and cargo flights are exempt.
- Closure of museums until further notice.
- All educational institutions are closed, and all political, social, and sporting events remain canceled.
- Sea travel to Spain, Gibraltar, and France remain suspended. The border with the Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, located on the north coast of Africa, is closed until further notice.
Authorities could further ease restrictions or introduce additional preventative measures, depending on the evolution of disease activity in the coming days and weeks.
Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Morocco are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all business appointments and travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.