Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Authorities in Morocco reimpose COVID-19 restrictions in Safi, Marrakesh-Safi Region as of July 7 following rise in number of cases.
- Alert Begins: 07 Jul 2020 06:38 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 12 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 reimposed a series of restrictions in Safi, Marrakesh-Safi Region as of July 7, amid efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The newly introduced restrictions require that businesses in Safi close by 1800 and cafes and restaurants by 2000 daily. Authorities will disinfect public spaces and transport as part of their efforts to combat COVID-19. Authorities will also completely isolate and quarantine areas that have experienced a high number of COVID-19 cases in the city.
Authorities began easing COVID-19 restrictions June 25 by resuming domestic flights nationwide and public transport, including trains and buses.
Authorities 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 officials have eased COVID-19 restrictions due to lesser disease activity. Residents can leave their homes without having to obtain a permit and will be allowed access to public spaces, such as parks and gardens. All residents, however, must carry their national identity cards at all times. Authorities will also allow the resumption of some commercial activities, such as reopening of 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 and Tangier, where authorities have eased only some restrictions. Residents can travel within the cities and regions they are living in without having to obtain a movement permit. People who wish to travel outside must obtain a permit from local authorities.
On June 9, authorities in Morocco extended the existing health state of emergency through July 10. The decree, which officials initially introduced on March 20, prohibited residents from leaving their homes without permission from local authorities. Residents were allowed outside between 0500-1900 to perform essential tasks, such as purchasing groceries or medications and obtaining medical treatment. It is unclear if officials have lifted the 1900-0500 curfew.
Other measures taken by the government of Morocco include:
- Suspension of international passenger flights until further notice; the measure does not apply to emergency and cargo flights.
- Ban on large gatherings, including weddings and funerals.
- Closure of museums, movie theaters, and swimming pools 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, and 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.