The Moroccan government has not yet announced an official decision on the reopening of borders to international travelers.
Rabat – Spain is planning to reopen its borders with Morocco on Wednesday after months of suspended international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schengen Visa Info quoted the President of the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, Eduardo de Castro, who said PM Pedro Sanchez informed him of Spain’s plans to resume international travel on July 1. The outlet added that the reopening of borders might be a “one-side action, as Spain expects that Morocco’s government will maintain its borders closed until winter.”
Spanish outlet El Pais also reported that Spain will allow travelers from outside the Schengen area to visit the country starting July 1, “providing there is a reciprocal agreement on travel and taking into account the epidemiological situation in the country of origin.”
The EU announced on June 26 its decision to open its external borders on July 1 to 14 non-Schengen countries that meet its “epidemiological criteria.” Morocco was included in the draft list, leading local media to predict the country will open its borders in July after the end of the state of emergency.
Domestic flights and tourism activities resumed on June 25 as part of deconfinement measures, but the Moroccan government has not yet announced an official decision on the reopening of borders to international travelers.
Morocco proactively suspended all international air, maritime, and land travel to contain the spread of COVID-19 on March 15, when the country only counted a few dozen cases that originated abroad.
The Moroccan government followed the decision to close borders with the state of emergency announcement on March 19, and the country entered a strict lockdown the following day. The state of emergency is currently effective until July 10, but lockdown measures have eased in recent weeks.
The lockdown, according to the Moroccan government, allowed the country to avoid more than 600 deaths and 900 infections per day.
While the country has started recording hundreds of new COVID-19 cases per day, the Ministry of Health assured over the weekend that the surge is due to mass screening, and the government said last week that the emergence of new hotspots is “natural” during the deconfinement period.
On June 9, when the government announced the extension of the state of emergency until July 10, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita said Morocco still did not establish an exact date to open its borders.
Morocco’s COVID-19 response has been successful, Bourita said, “thanks to the wisdom of King Mohammed VI and the proactive measures the country took upon confirmation of Morocco’s first case of the virus.”
He said the country’s proactive response to the unprecedented pandemic “capitalizes on the best practices at the regional or international level, but without any mimicry or blind conformity.”
Part of Morocco’s crisis response, however, was a three-month delay in repatriating some 33,000 Moroccans who were stranded abroad after the borders closed in March. The government stressed that repatriation could only occur in the “best conditions.”
After weeks of criticism, Morocco launched repatriation operations in late May, and over 4,000 Moroccans stranded in 17 countries have since returned home.
In addition to citizens stranded overseas, the plight of members of the Moroccan diaspora who found themselves stuck in Morocco, unable to return to their countries of residence, has also been a persistent issue.
Spain vowed to facilitate the transit of Moroccans residing in Europe if Morocco decides to reopen its international borders, Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said on June 23.
“If there are Moroccan citizens who want, individually, to return to their country … Spain is ready to organize the transit of these citizens,” she said in a statement to Spanish radio network Onda Cero.