Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Morocco reimpose COVID-19 restrictions in Casablanca following a rise in number of cases as of Sept. 7.

Alert Begins 07 Sep 2020 02:56 AM UTC
Alert Expires 15 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
Authorities in Morocco have reimposed coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related restrictions in Casablanca as of Sept. 7, following a rise in the number of cases. A nightly curfew of 2200-0500 will enter into effect for a period of two weeks beginning Sept. 7. Authorities will also close all educational institutions. Most businesses will be required to shut by 1500; cafes will close at 2000 and restaurants at 2100.

Authorities previously reimposed COVID-19 restrictions in Marrakesh, Aug. 18. Officials closed several neighborhoods within the city until further notice. Officials also reimposed limits in Tangier and Fez cities from Aug. 5, following a rise in COVID-19 cases. Authorities have banned all public gatherings and access to beaches and public spaces, such as gardens and sports centers. Citizens and residents need to obtain a permit from local authorities before traveling to and from the cities. All shops, cafes, and commercial centers must close at 2200, while restaurants must close by 2300 daily. Public transport in the two cities can only operate at 50 percent capacity. Neighborhoods within the cities that have experienced an unusual number of cases of COVID-19 will face even more severe restrictions.

Authorities have also extended the existing nationwide state of emergency through Sept. 10 as part of the nation's efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The moves come after Morocco had eased a series of COVID-19 restrictions July 21. Several businesses and services, including hotels, intercity transport, and restaurants reopened, albeit under certain operating capacity limitations. Authorities also allowed gatherings of more than 20 people in most regions; however, weddings, funerals, movie theaters, and public swimming pools will remain banned until further notice. Domestic flights and public transport, including train and bus services, resumed nationwide in late June. Nevertheless, the government in Rabat regularly reimposes restrictions on cities and regions that experience upticks in COVID-19 activity.

International passenger flights remain suspended until further notice; however, some airlines continue to operate limited repatriation and charter flights. Emergency and cargo flights can still operate normally. 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. All educational institutions are closed, and all political, social, and sporting events remain canceled.

For disease monitoring and tracking purposes, the Moroccan government has classified certain areas in the country as "Zone 1" or "Zone 2" regions based on the local level of COVID-19 activity. In Zone 1 regions, authorities have eased restrictions due to lower disease activity. Residents can leave their homes without special permits but must carry their national identity cards at all times. Certain commercial establishments, such as restaurants, cafes, hotels, beaches, and public baths, are allowed to reopen; all businesses must operate at 50 percent capacity and comply with the country's social distancing guidelines. Zone 2 areas are those where authorities have eased only some restrictions; individuals may not travel outside their municipality of residence without a special permit.

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 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.

Advice
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.


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