Morocco sets to reopen borders after strict lockdown

by Maruf Adedeji

Moroccoan government has announced plan to gradually reopen its air and maritime borders next week after a total lockdown across the country.

With many tourists trapped inside the country and thousands of Moroccans unable to come home, Morocco’s lockdown remains one of the world’s strictest measures against coronavirus pandemic.

The first stage of the re-opening will allow only Moroccoan citizens and expatriates living in Morocco to travel, effective from 14 July, 2020.

Moroccans living abroad as well as foreigners living in Morocco will be able to board as many flights as necessary from the national airlines.

Passengers will be required to present both a PCR virus test taken not more than 48 hours before the flight as well as an antibody test before boarding planes heading for Morocco.

Ferries from the French port Sete and Italian port Genoa will be allowed to resume work at the Moroccan sea ports, excluding other ports from operation for now.

Moroccan citizens and foreign residents will also be allowed to leave Morocco by air and sea.

From 15 March, 2020, Morocco has abruptly suspended all international passenger flights and passenger ships to and from its territory.

The country’s decision to declare a total lockdown has left many tourists scrambling for exit and Moroccoans stranded abroad.

The country further barred its citizens from coming home in hopes of minimising the risk posed by their return should any returnee test positive in case of an overwhelming of under-prepared Moroccoan hospitals.

The government gradually started allowing some Moroccoans return home in the recent weeks after much pressure from thousands of stranded Moroccoans abroad.

Morocco will will also re-open mosques next week, though ban on weekly Friday prayers is still in place.

The country will re-open mosques on 15 July, 2020 and encourage religious authority to call on the faithful to wear masks, use personal prayer mats and uphold social distancing in and out the mosques.

No date has been announced for churches and synagogues to re-open.

Local authorities in the coastal city of Safi were forced to put their City back on lockdown earlier this week, forcing more than 308,000 citizens to stay home after an outbreak in a fish conservation factory.

There were also coronavirus cases of 457 strawberry pickers and walkers in a Renault factory in Tangier and in a strawberry plant in kenitra.

So far, Morocco has recorded more than 15,000 coronavirus cases, most of which are within families and factories.

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