Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Morocco reimpose coronavirus-related restrictions and a 2200 - 0500 nightly curfew in Settat as of Sept. 19.

Alert Begins 19 Sep 2020 04:57 PM 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

Authorities in Morocco have reimposed a partial lockdown and a 2200-0500 nightly curfew in Settat as of Sept. 19 as part of the nation's efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The new measures, which will be in effect for a week, require that markets close by 1700 and cafes, restaurants, and shops close by 2000 daily.

Authorities have extended the health state of emergency through Oct. 10 to combat COVID-19. Authorities previously reimposed a partial lockdown and a 1800-0500 nightly curfew in Kenitra and Mehdya in Kenitra Province Sept. 14, following a rise in COVID-19 activity. All commercial operations and nonessential businesses must close by 1800 daily. Authorities will also restrict movement in and out of the two cities for a week.

Officials previously announced plans to reopen the country's borders to authorized business visitors - travelers with an invitation from a Moroccan company to travel to the country and confirmed hotel reservations - from Sept. 10. The invitation from a Moroccan company must include the traveler's full name and passport number, the purpose of the visit, and the length of stay in the country. Royal Air Maroc (AT) has announced that it will accommodate and allow foreigners who meet the government's requirements to fly with the airline.

Additionally, the government reimposed restrictions related to COVID-19 in Casablanca Sept. 7, following a rise in the number of cases. A nightly 2200-0500 curfew is in effect for 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 also reimposed COVID-19 restrictions in Marrakesh as of Aug. 18; several neighborhoods are closed until further notice.

Officials have periodically reimposed restrictions in cities across Morocco due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. Restrictions include, but are not limited to, a ban all public gatherings and access to beaches and public spaces, such as gardens and sports centers, as well as the closure of businesses.

Nevertheless, nationwide several businesses and services, including hotels, intercity transport, and restaurants, have reopened, albeit under certain operating capacity limitations. Authorities also allow 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, are in operation.

International passenger flights remain suspended until further notice; however, some airlines operate limited repatriation and charter flights. Emergency and cargo flights are exempt. Sea travel to Spain, Gibraltar, and France remains 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.

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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