What does the state of health emergency mean for international tourists and expats currently residing in Morocco?
By Zuza Nazaruk
Rabat – Yesterday at 6 pm, the Moroccan government introduced a country-wide state of a health emergency health emergency for an indefinite period.
The move was announced on Thursday evening after Morocco saw the numbers of coronavirus infections skyrocket by 500% in just a week, from 17 cases on the 14th of March to 86 cases as of today.
The Health Emergency is an additional measure to ‘keep the virus under control’: the shutdown of public places and the suspension of travel, both international and internal, have been in place since the beginning of this week.
The order implicates that all unnecessary activity may be suspended and that everybody currently residing in Morocco, no matter whether a national or a foreigner, restricts their movement and stays at home. Essential services, such as food, sanitary and medication trade, as well as vital economic sectors: industry and agriculture, will remain running. What does the state of health emergency mean for international tourists and expats currently residing in Morocco?
Contact the embassies
Most of the commercial flights have already been suspended since last Sunday; some national airlines are still organizing charter flights as exceptions to bring in their country’s nationals. Every foreign person currently staying in Morocco is advised to contact their country’s embassies if they have not done so yet. The embassies may provide information on additional flights and precaution measures.
Moreover, in case one is risking overstaying the constitutional three-month period allowed without a visa, national embassies in collaboration with the Moroccan embassy may provide a special visa extension until the borders are re-opened.
Restrict trips for essential supplies
Access to vital products and services will not be restrained, nor will be the movement to acquire them. Therefore, any shop that sells: alimentary products; detergents and hygienic articles; sanitary and medical equipment; as well as bakeries, butcheries, pharmacies, and parapharmacies, will remain open.
Moulay Hafid Elalamy, the minister of Industry, Trade, and Green and Digital Economy, has ensured on Thursday that the markets are ‘equipped with enough supplies for the months to come’. Essential services, such as clinics, medical centers, and laboratories; banks, insurance companies and post offices; as well as security and hygiene providers, among others, will keep operating.
However, the trip for supplies needs to be constrained to ‘the perimeter of the place of residence’. It is recommended to gather enough supplies so that one can stay inside for some days. In case of a prolonged medical consultation or a continuous need for getting drugs from a pharmacy, one needs to stick to a single source.
The only exception to this rule is somebody’s workplace being essential to the survival of the economy, a condition that needs to be proven by an official document from the authorities. The local authorities, the Public Forces, National Security, Royal Gendarmerie and Auxiliary Forces, join forces to ensure citizens’ and visitors’ compliance with these mandatory measures. Anyone who will not comply will be subject to sanctions stated in the Penal Code.
Do not panic
The situation is severe but there is no need to panic. The Moroccan government is taking swift and decisive measures against the further spread of coronavirus, while at the same time ensuring the citizens’ and visitors’ access to reliable information.
It may be useful to refer to these news outlets in case of experienced anxiety. CovidMaroc is a governmental website that offers insights into the development of the coronavirus in Morocco, as well as information on the closest medical consultation points.
‘Allô Sam’, available at 141, is a governmental hotline aiming to provide general health consultation about the coronavirus. Anybody who is feeling unsure about their symptoms can call freely, however, it may be useful to speak French, as there is no guarantee the employees of the hotline are fluent in English.
The hotline operates in the whole of Morocco except for Drâa-Tafilalet, Béni Mellal-Khénifra, Guelmim-Oued Noun et Dakhla-Oued Eddahab; the residents of these regions should refer to ‘Allô veille épidémiologique’ at +212 0801004747. It is uncertain how long the lockdown will last, therefore everybody is advised to take care of themselves and their closest ones; a balanced diet, enough sleep, exercise, and relaxation are just some recommendations on how to keep a healthy body and mind.