Caulked since mid-March, Morocco has decided to opt for a “progressive reduction” of containment measures while maintaining severe restrictions in the big cities, causing some disappointment. The state of health emergency remains in force. It was extended by a month, until July 10, in a country now divided into two separate areas given the “health gaps between regions,” according to an official statement released Tuesday night.
Economic activities had already resumed in fact in the aftermath of Eid-el-Fitr at the end of May, all of this in an unofficial and very timid way in this country of 35 million inhabitants relatively spared from the new coronavirus, with 8,455 contaminations and 210 deaths officially listed.
With the extension of the state of emergency, wearing a mask remains compulsory, gatherings prohibited, mosques, cinemas and theaters closed, restaurants and cafes limited to take-out orders. In short, an extension of the “confinement” which does not say its name …
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A kingdom divided into two zones
“Zone 1”, which concerns the least populated regions, small and medium-sized cities, will return to an almost normal life: deconfinement, circulation without special permit, reopening of public outdoor spaces …
The “zone 2” which remains confined until further notice includes the big cities: the capital Rabat, the economic heart of the country Casablanca, the main tourist destination Marrakech or the big port of Tangier.
To the great disappointment of all those who will have to stay at home for an indefinite period, travel remains subject to exceptional authorization, children will not be able to go out, the practice of outdoor sports will be prohibited, it will always be impossible to go to the hairdresser.
In recent days, Moroccan media have multiplied calls to lift the containment, pointing to an “untenable” situation for a large segment of the population, especially in high-density neighborhoods.
“Containment is difficult, but it has saved us lives,” said Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani on Wednesday before Parliament. “Health indicators are improving. The case fatality rate is 2.5% and 92% of the cases are mild or asymptomatic. But the situation differs from one region to another, from time to time a source of contamination appears, “added the Prime Minister in front of a few reassembled deputies. The “zone 2” gathers 39% of the population of the country but shelters 87% of the officially registered cases of contamination, he said, adding that the worst was avoided, only 1% of the Kingdom’s capacities in services of emergencies having been used.
“With the continued observance of precautionary and distancing measures, we have started deconfinement by taking into account several parameters, at the same time chronological, geographic, demographic and epidemiological, the aim being to limit the appearance of new infections and new outbreaks and to avoid community dissemination of the virus in regions with sporadic cases and / or small outbreaks, “he added.
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Is Morocco doing too much?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Cherifian kingdom has opted for a prudent strategy which aims first of all to save the lives and the health of the citizens before any economic considerations. Today, this approach is criticized, especially since, in the opinion of many, communication is not always there. “The Moroccans want the containment to be lifted (…), millions of them have become poorer, without prospect,” retorted Abdellatif Ouahbi, head of the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM, opposition).
On the social networks, the general tone is to the disappointment, the hashtag # zone1 took the head of the trends on Twitter in Morocco.
“The necessary confidence is today disturbed by the lack of visibility”, estimated in a column published in the daily newspaper The Economist researcher Ali Bouabid, arguing for “a minimum of transparency”.
In Rabat, police roadblocks remain deployed but the streets are busier and traffic has resumed almost normally. Violations of the state of health emergency are punishable by three months in prison and / or a maximum fine of 1,300 dirhams (around 124 euros). Some 91,000 people have been arrested for violating the state of health emergency and about 4,000 of them have been detained, according to the latest official report published in late May. The NGO Amnesty International on Tuesday denounced “disproportionate” sanctions, up to three months in prison, citing “at least five human rights activists and citizen journalists” prosecuted for “criticizing the management of the crisis in a peaceful manner du Covid-19 “by the kingdom.
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On the long-awaited reopening of the mosques, it was with a fatwa that the Council of Ulemas, the high authority with the monopoly on religious consultations, confirmed that they would remain closed despite the easing measures. “A fatwa of the Superior Council of Ulemas concerning the closure of the mosques provided that the need is lifted by the lifting of its justification, which means that the temporary closure of the mosques will be lifted as soon as the epidemiological situation returns to normal in our country. country, “says the text.
Uncertainties at borders, tourism at half mast
However, no announcement has been made on the reopening of the borders, which have been closed since mid-March, when tourism professionals wanted more visibility and more than 30,000 Moroccan travelers, stranded around the world, are waiting to return. at their home. Repatriation has started on a dime for some 1,100 travelers who are quarantined on arrival.
Tourism, a key sector of the Moroccan economy, has seen its revenues plunge. The operators are banking on national tourism to relaunch themselves, but for the time being, travel between cities is reserved for work with the employer’s order of mission. The first two months of confinement caused the kingdom to lose six points of GDP. And according to a recent official survey, one in two Moroccans lives with compulsory confinement “with anxiety”. Rabat has deployed a whole range of aid for paralyzed companies, employees on temporary work stoppage and informal workers. Another strategy that will be reinforced during this time: the acceleration of tests. From 2,000 per day, the number of tests increased to 17,500 daily. A “massive” screening campaign for private sector employees has just been launched by Moroccan employers and a mobile screening laboratory was set up on Tuesday June 9 in the Casablanca region, economic capital and most affected area.
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