Moroccan authorities have helped thousands of tourists to return to their countries, allowing special flights amid the country’s international air and sea travel suspension.
Rabat – UK Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly reassured UK tourists stranded in motor homes near the Spanish enclave of Ceuta that they will receive help from Moroccan authorities.
To those in motor homes near Ceuta. Please confirm where you are exactly (nearest town). I have just spoken to the Moroccan authorities. We are going to get you out. T
— Thomas Reilly (@TSAReilly) March 24, 2020
The ambassador shared worries about UK tourists who are stranded in the region due to a lockdown and other strict measures taken to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Reilly was the target of many tweets from stranded British tourists at Ceuta’s Morocco-Spain border.
One of the tweets explained that approximately 1,000 people, waiting in motor homes, are queuing at the border with Morocco.
“No water/sanitation. Limited food. Some been [sic] there for days.”
In response, Reilly told stranded tourists to confirm their exact location in the Ceuta area.
“I have just spoken to the Moroccan authorities. We are going to get you out,” the ambassador reassured the tourists.
Tourists stress the situation’s severity
One of the stranded tourists, Ken Dransfield, told Morocco World News that UK citizens who have been in Morocco during this crisis have received notable help from the Moroccan government.
The Moroccan authorities “have been very proactive in their approach to the virus,” the tourist said.
“They reacted quicker than our own govt [sic], which has a far bigger problem, as have the Spanish & French,” the traveler added.
Dransfield said the British Consul advised all trapped Brits to drive to Ceuta “with their assurance that we could cross to Spain.”
The tourists ended up stranded at the border without any intervention on the horizon.
The UK national told MWN, “We’ve been stranded here for 3 days, some others even longer. I estimate there are over 500 camping cars in a queue which stretches for five km along the seafront at Fnideq [in northern Morocco] just before the border with Ceuta.”
He said that tourists are not afraid, but are “more frustrated with the Spanish and our British Governments.”
Dransfield, who is traveling with his wife Lynda, also expressed concerns about parents facing this ordeal with their children.
“There are vehicles and cars, some with children who have little or no facilities. The front of the queue vans are double parked so can’t get out, only by going forward.”
In response to these concerns, the UK ambassador said that his government previously issued advice urging British nationals across the world to return to the UK.
He also pointed out that the measure to repatriate UK citizens applies to tourists only.
The ambassador advised the stranded tourists to carry exceptional movement permits so they may leave their homes during the lockdown.
Morocco continues repatriations as response measures intensify
Moroccan authorities have helped thousands of tourists to return to their countries, allowing special flights to take off during an air and sea travel suspension.
The Moroccan government suspended all international flights on March 15, when the number of the country’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases was 28.
The number of confirmed cases stands at 143 cases at the time of writing.
Morocco tightened preventive measures against the pandemic and imposed a nationwide lockdown beginning March 20. The state of emergency will continue until April 20. The government has called on all people to limit movement and stay home to avoid infection.
Amid the lockdown, tourists, citizens, and residents should carry exceptional movement permits that will allow them to go into public for special cases, such as to go to work, to go grocery shopping, or for emergencies.
El Pais said Morocco has been at the vanguard of countries tackling the pandemic.
“This Saturday (March 21), Morocco was at the top of the list of countries who have adopted the most confinement measures in their fight against the coronavirus,” the outlet remarked. “Not even China implemented something like this in all of its territory.”