After Morocco announced the suspension of air and maritime traffic to and from Spain amid the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Spanish tourists were left unable to get home.
Rabat – Morocco’s decision to suspend all air and maritime traffic to and from Spain as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis rages on left thousands of Spanish holiday makers and expats unable to return to Spain.
The situation worsened after the land borders between Morocco and the two Spanish enclaves Ceuta and Melilla closed at 6 a.m. this morning.
The Spanish embassy in Rabat confirmed that Spain and Morocco were working together to find a solution for the stranded tourists.
“The Spanish Embassy is making arrangements with the Moroccan authorities to try to facilitate the departure of Spanish tourists to Morocco. As soon as we have news we transmit them through social networks and the Consulates in #Morocco,” the tweet reads.
Just a few hours later, the embassy took to Twitter again to confirm Morocco and Spain had found a solution.
“As reported by the Moroccan authorities, starting this afternoon the border crossings through Ceuta and Melilla will be open for those Spanish tourists who wish to return to Spain. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.”
As yet, neither the embassy nor Moroccan authorities have provided further information, leaving the stranded tourists unsure how long the border will remain open.
Spanish Twitter users are calling on the embassy to provide more information as a matter of urgency, with many holidaymakers in central and southern Morocco expressing concerns that they will not be able to travel to Ceuta or Melilla before the borders close again.
Morocco’s decision to close the border came after the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Spain soared to over 3,000 on Thursday. Spain recorded over 1,000 new cases on Friday alone, for a total of over 4,300. Meanwhile, Melilla reported its first two cases on March 12.
The announcements on the land border closure and re-opening both came in the form of tweets from Spanish authorities, with Rabat making no official comment.
The official Twitter account for the autonomous government of Melilla published an urgent announcement late Thursday night, informing citizens “from 6 am the Beni Enzar border will be closed, so it is recommended that all Melilla citizens who are in Morocco return to the city as soon as possible.”
“The closure of the borders between #Melilla and Morocco was a decision taken in the late afternoon as a preventive measure against the coronavirus.”
The “urgent” notice concluded by pledging to provide further information as soon as possible.