Yesterday, “thanks” to the asymptotic curve of new cases, Morocco was removed from the list of countries considered as safe by European Union.
That’s what the Moroccan government wanted to avoid at all costs
This European list is only a recommendation. Each European state is free to enforce it or not. Morocco waits to know what France and Spain will do, these two countries being its main partners. Even if Great-Britain brexited, they are still more or less a part of the European space till the end of the year.
Foreseeable consequences are :
- even more restricted travel possibilities, especially for people who do not have a Moroccan residency card ; up to now, it was still possible (but quite complicated) to travel to Morocco without being a resident, a Moroccan, a spouse or children of one of the two firsts. You had to justify that you really needed to come to Morocco, in order to get an authorization from your local Moroccan consulate. An exemption is still planned, only for travellers with an essential function or needs, like medics.
You would still have to find a flight or a boat, of course.
Now, there is a high risk that the country where you are forbids your travel (like Belgium does for specific destinations). Health insurance coverage could also be refused, in case you’d catch Covid in Morocco (like in Switzerland).
- Very probably, the borders with Ceuta, Melilla and Algesiras will now remain closed. Seasonal workers that would have worked in Spanish farms for the harvests (fruits, grapes…) will loose this essential revenue.
- Very probably also a drastic diminution of the number of flights, repatriations having taken place for a few weeks, with the “special operation” supposed to end by the 10th of August. The Prime Minister confirmed Moroccan aerial space will remain closed up to now.
- Totally forgetting any hope for tourism this autumn. If some people still hoped to welcome tourists again in September or October, we can be sure that no one will take the risk of booking holidays in an “unsafe destination”. Even if Morocco could open again its borders in October, tourists will have booked their holidays somewhere else.
- Additional long weeks for separated families, for these people who lived in Morocco without a residency and are currently blocked out of the country
- And probably a new prolongation for people in Morocco without a valid visa or, at least doing it the Moroccan way, indulgence for those who overstay.
That was hardly avoidable
I’m doing my best, I can’t see how the Moroccan government could have done it differently for the Eid. At least without enforcing its regulations with an unacceptable brutality over the people who broke through the barrages and roadblocks.
Many Moroccans complained that the government did not announced much earlier this circulation interdiction for Eid, but it would not have been understood, nor accepted : the figures were much better, Morocco started the phase three of the return to normality, with very few measures preventing circulation, hotels and restaurants authorized to increase their capacities.
It’s only when the number of new cases started to increase to a worrying level that it would have been possible to announce these restrictions on travel… but that was less than two weeks before Eid.
The government did not have the necessary time to convince people these measures were necessary. What would have happened would have been exactly the same as what happened : a generalized refusal and rebellion. It would have happened on a longer period, with much more people.
Maybe it would have been possible to do better in one area : to organize the delivery of the lambs in the large city, even subsidize them partially. The breeders would have make enough money to save their year, the poor families would have had their lamb. Unfortunately, Morocco does not have yet a system efficient enough to ensure subsidies and support are received only by those who need them.
Eid Great Migration happened, in a state of panic, without any respect of sanitary measures and social distanciation. Returns already started, as best as possible : it’s already very difficult to leave Fez and Tangier. They will take place over several more days.
This big swirling mix will be seen in new cases figures till mid of August at least, may be more…
Everyone knows someone who had / has Covid
For a few days, the explosion of new cases made people realize that the pandemic is real. For a large majority of Moroccans, Covid is not anymore a “Westerners’ disease”, “a plot to kill our liberties”, etc. but a virus that infected a friend, a family member, a boss, a coworker…
At the same time, a realistic fine was set : 300 MAD for each violation of the state of sanitary emergency. State of emergency extended to the 10th of September “at least”. All this hit strongly enough people and made them aware of the situation. It is confirmed by the disappearance of what I call “Fish Moroccans” (people who put the mask under their chin, because they breathe with gills, like fishes). At least in the large cities, 80% of Moroccans wear the mask, 50% of them wear it correctly.
It’s a pity we could not have achieved that earlier. From the end of the lockdown to the Eid, Morocco was a huge “covid party”. It pays the price now.