As part of ongoing efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), authorities in Morocco have extended restrictions in Casablanca and in the towns of Berrechid and Benslimane. A partial lockdown and a 2100-0600 nightly curfew will remain in effect through at least Nov. 30 following a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. Only individuals with authorization from officials are allowed to enter or leave the Casablanca-Settat region while the restrictions are in place. Authorities have closed stadiums and parks; cafes and restaurants must close at 2000 daily. Public transport is allowed to operate until 2100.
Several other cities and provinces have begun implementing similar restrictions, including:
- As of Nov. 1, authorities have imposed an indefinite nightly 2100-0600 curfew in Al Hoceima Province due to a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. Authorities have also ordered closure of restaurants and cafes by 2100 daily. Public gatherings have been limited to 10 people and closed public parks, playgrounds, and sports stadiums.
- As of Oct. 20, authorities in the city of Tetouan introduced a nightly 2200-0500 curfew and closed parks, playgrounds, and entertainment spaces. Gatherings of more than 10 people have been banned and markets are required to close by 1700 daily. Authorities have not said how long the restrictions will remain in place.
Additionally, the existing nationwide health state of emergency has been extended through Nov. 10 as part of the nation's efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Officials have periodically reimposed restrictions in cities across Morocco due to rises in disease activity. Restrictions may include, but are not limited to, bans on all public gatherings and access to beaches and public spaces, such as gardens and sports centers, as well as business closures.
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.
Generally, nationwide some 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 remain banned or closed 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 northern coast of Africa, is closed until further notice.
Nevertheless, the country's borders are open to authorized business visitors, i.e. those persons with an invitation from a Moroccan company to travel to the country and confirmed hotel reservations. 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.
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.