More than two months of confinement have taken a toll on Moroccans’ minds and pockets, and it remains to be seen if the country’s citizens and residents will readily accept a third lockdown extension in the name of public health.
Rabat – Morocco’s government is set to announce an extension of the state of emergency and lockdown, sources close to the government reportedly told Le360.
Morocco’s state of emergency came into effect on March 20 and was initially set to end on April 20. An extension kept the lockdown in place until May 20, and the government decided a second time to extend confinement for an additional three weeks.
Moroccan citizens and residents have been expecting the country to proceed with deconfinement come June 10.
However, “the government is preparing to announce next week the extension of the state of health emergency,” sources told Le360.
“The extension of the state of health emergency will be taken under a decree of the head of government,” the news outlet added, stating that Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani will announce the Moroccan government’s official decision on June 10.
The third extension might leave Moroccans under lockdown until the end of this month and could even extend beyond June, depending on the epidemiological situation in the country.
“The prolongation of the state of health emergency is a normal mechanism in this period of the pandemic,” a government source allegedly told the news outlet.
The same source added that several countries repeatedly extended the state of emergency, including France and Spain.
Local Moroccan outlet Assabah also reported the news of a potential extension on June 4.
A potential state of emergency and lockdown extension would mean that Moroccan citizens and residents must continue to limit their movements, wear protective face masks in public, and respect official health measures.
El Othmani acknowledged in May that confinement and lockdown are exhausting and a lot of people are eager to return to normalcy.
He also said the socio-economic impacts of lockdown have been tough on citizens, especially those whose salaries were suspended.
El Othmani, however, emphasized the importance of the lockdown and state of emergency, saying the proactive measures have helped Morocco “avoid the worst” of the pandemic.
The head of government and the Minister of Health Khaled Ait Taleb both maintain that the country will be able to lift the lockdown when the virus’s transmission rate, or “R0” rate, stays below 1.0 for a two-week period. For maximum safety, the R0 rate — representing the average number of people a single COVID-19 carrier infects — should be less than 0.7.
As of 4 p.m. on June 5, Morocco has confirmed a total of 8,030 COVID-19 cases, including 7,215 recoveries, and 208 fatalities. Only 607 active cases remain.