Tight restrictions in major Moroccan cities mark the new normal

Moroccan authorities recently imposed tight controls on movement in and out of Marrakesh and Casablanca, two of the country’s major cities as part of the drastic measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.

The twin Northern cities are known for their economic importance to the general economy and are vital for commerce and tourism. Other cities affectedby the movement restrictions are Tangier, Fez, Settat, Meknes, Tetouan, and Berrechid.

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Several districts in the two cities were sealed off and opening hours shortened for restaurants, businesses, coffee houses, and public parks. The drastic measures included the closure of public beaches in Casablanca, a move earlier done in Rabat.

Transportation and movement using the Morocco National Railways Office trains are at 9.4 million in the first half of 2020 (both pre and post COVID-19 numbers). This is a 44% decrease in overall numbers. However, freight traffic and transportation of products were only slightly affected. The figures are according to ONCF.

Restricted movements

As part of the exemptions, only those with “urgent” medical needs or medical workers are permitted to move freely. Either way, they also need a travel permit issued by local authorities. Movement of goods and other commodities will continue unhindered. According to the Health Ministry, the Moroccan government had no choice but to issue the restrictions given the public’s non-compliance with safety measures. No communication has been made on the duration of the ban. In a speech marking the 67th anniversary of the Revolution, King Mohammed VI warned Moroccans of tighter restrictions should some continue to dismiss COVID-19 restrictions.

Morocco preps for a vaccine

Covid-19 infections are on an upward trajectory in the country of 35 million. By the last count, official infection numbers had exceeded 1,000. Morocco is one of the 172 countries that have signed up for the “Mechanism for Global Access to COVID-19 Vaccine” a WHO Initiative that could see it acquire over a hundred million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at $3 per dose.

Morocco falls in the category of the lower-middle-income countries or territories eligible to participate in this program. It shares the same status with its neighboring partners Algeria and Tunisia. If chosen as a beneficiary, the country will acquire over 100 million doses of either Novavax or AstraZeneca’s candidate vaccines. The initiative is a partnership between the Serum Institute of India, Gavi, the vaccine alliance, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Morocco will also participate in the production of a vaccine after signing a cooperation agreement with China on vaccine trials.

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