Following the pattern of all coronavirus-hit countries, Morocco is canceling a series of meetings and events to protect its population from the epidemic.
Rabat – Although only two cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed so far in Morocco, authorities are taking preventive measures to keep the disease under control.
Morocco remains in the first phase of the national monitoring and response plan against the COVID-19 epidemic. As a preliminary prevention measure, the government prohibited gatherings of more than 1,000 people in confined spaces, at least until the end of March.
The measure affects several international events. The organizers of Morocco’s International Agricultural Exhibition (SIAM) in Meknes were the first to cancel their event.
The 15th SIAM, initially scheduled for April 14 to 19, expected nearly one million visitors.
As the most important agricultural meeting in Morocco, SIAM’s cancellation is a big blow to Morocco’s agricultural sector, which is already weak after a short rainy season this year.
A large number of farmers and cooperatives used to generate most of their turnover during SIAM. The cancellation will also negatively affect the economy of Meknes, as the event is the most important tourism generator in the imperial city.
The Crans Montana Forum in the city of Dakhla, southern Morocco, is also canceled.
The forum, initially scheduled for March 18 to 21, represents an opportunity for Morocco to assert its sovereignty over Western Sahara, as it attracts senior officials from across the continent to discuss South-South cooperation.
The cancellation of the symbolic event represents an interruption of Morocco’s diplomatic momentum in Western Sahara.
The organizers of Auto Expo, an annual auto show in Casablanca, decided to postpone the event from June to December. The event offers an opportunity for car manufacturers to announce special discounts and deals in order to boost their sales.
Soon after the organizers announced the delay, several automobile companies launched their commercial strategies and announced discounts to prevent annual sales from plummeting.
Another major announcement was the Moroccan Royal Football Federation’s (FRMF) decision to hold local games for the remainder of the season behind closed doors.
The decision strikes a significant blow to Moroccan football clubs, as ticket sales represent a crucial source of revenue. Carrying out the rest of the season without spectators would hugely decrease the clubs’ income.
The list of canceled events also includes the International Tea Fair in Agadir, the Marocotel Fair for hotel professionals in Casablanca, the Casablanca Gastronomic Festival, the National Almond Festival in Tafraout, and the International Festival of Culture and Art of Doukkala, among other gatherings.
It remains to be seen how the list will expand as the COVID-19 epidemic evolves.
Morocco’s national economy will undoubtedly take a hit from the disruptions, and the government will have to determine the best way to mitigate the epidemic’s economic consequences.