The results of Morocco’s strict COVID-19 lockdown measures have received applause for their success, but at a cost.
Rabat – For some, the good intentions of Morocco’s strict lockdown measures to battle COVID-19 may be voided by severe economic and social repercussions.
In the case of car rental companies within the country, industry employees are expressing concern over the growing number of suicides emerging during Morocco’s nationwide state of emergency.
Car rental companies have reported four cases of suicide among their employees, including one in Marrakech, one in Agadir, and two in Casablanca.
Mohamed Alami, president of Morocco’s Association of Car Rental Companies (ALASCAM), confirmed the related deaths and stressed that the challenges directly link to their reported lack of support directed at businesses suffering from the prolonged work hiatus.
Alami explained that while all revenue ceased, fees and interest rates from banks continued. The financial burden presented many unpaid rental company owners and employees with the challenge to feed their families.
“The number of corporate bankruptcies in our business exceeds that of deaths caused by the Covid-19,” said Mohamed Alami in an interview with Maroc 360.
Morocco has managed to keep its COVID-19 death rate at 2.2%, impressively low compared to other countries. The World Bank took notice of Morocco for its strenuous efforts and effective pandemic response, spotlighting the country as having “one of the lowest fatality rates in the world.”
Worldwide, a debate on prioritizing public health or the economy has sought to denote a better of two evils. While patient mortality rates remain low, lockdown repercussion rates mount high.
Car rental professionals fear their problems will continue after the state of emergency lifts, noting that 78% of car rentals in the country correlate to tourism — an industry that is also suffering from the pandemic’s impact.
Morocco strategizes moving beyond the pandemic
As Morocco eases its lockdown restrictions and prepares to end the state of emergency on July 10, the country is seeking new solutions to mend the widespread loss and damages accumulated during more than three months of shuttered businesses.
As part of the government’s deconfinement plans and strategies, Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani announced on June 16 that the second phase of lifting lockdown measures will include a relaunch of economic, social, and cultural activities in approved zones.
In hopes of drawing on domestic tourism and drumming up business, transportation operators have reduced the price of rental cars by 50-66%.
Since the March 20 state of emergency declaration, Morocco has implemented legislation in order to control the spread of the novel coronavirus within its borders. With the government’s proactive and aggressive response, the country made a name for itself by enforcing stay-at-home orders and keeping a tight grip on the population’s activities.
Strict measures to curb the infectious disease left many deeming Morocco’s handling of the pandemic a positive example. However, a number of human rights advocates and citizens facing economic strife are questioning whether the cost of their economic and social liberties were worth the effort.