24 – 29 May, 2020 | Press Review

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

May 24, 2020: Eid Al Fitr 2020/1441-Joy stifled, sadness and hope

Moroccans, like Muslims around the world, are preparing to celebrate Eid-al Fitr, the end of the month of Ramadan 2020, corresponding to the year 1441 of the hijra. Given the health crisis linked to the new Coronavirus (COVID-19), this great feast of the Muslim calendar is being held this year under special and very sad circumstances.

The event which brought us together: Moroccans, like the 1.8 billion Muslims throughout the world, attach particular importance to this religious holiday, which has always been synonymous with joy, exchange of family visits, outings with family and friends, in addition to being a time when toddlers and children are pampered by parents as well as grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc…

COVID-19 decided otherwise: this year (2020), the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) has decided otherwise. Who among us was not shocked by the announcement of the extension of the containment in Morocco for another 3 long weeks? Certainly this announcement made by the Head of Government Saâdeddine El Othmani on Monday, May 18, 2020 in Parliament was predictable, however Moroccans were hoping for a deconfinement even gradual, more than 2 months after the entry into force of the state of health emergency on March 20, 2020.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 25, 2020: Meknes declared free of COVID-19

The prefecture of Meknes was declared Sunday evening without Covid19 , after the recovery of the last patient under treatment at the Sidi Said hospital, announced the prefectoral delegation of health. Since the beginning of the epidemic in Meknes, 119 patients have tested positive and 3,700 cases have been excluded. Among them, 105 have been cured while 14 deaths have been recorded. Meknes thus joins the four provinces of the Fez-Meknes region that are free of the Coronavirus. They are Taza, Moulay Yaacoub, Ifrane and Boulemane. The latter has not recorded any cases to date.

In the last 24 hours, 11 recovery cases from the new Coronavirus have been recorded in the Fez-Meknes region, bringing the total number of recovery to 765. The cure rate is 76.9pc, according to the report released Sunday at 16H, by the regional health department.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 25, 2020: Gradual restart of the construction sites-Mrs Bouchareb takes stock with the Al Omrane Group

To prepare for the resumption of activity in the sector and the gradual and safe resumption of construction sites, Nouhza Bouchareb, Minister of National Land Use Planning, Urban Planning, Housing and Urban Policy, chaired a coordination meeting with the Al Omrane Group. On this occasion, she insisted on the respect of health and safety measures in construction sites in accordance with the recommendations provided in the guidelines developed by the Ministry in consultation with all stakeholders in the Construction and Housing ecosystem aimed at managing the risk of spreading Covid-19 in workplaces in the sector.

Public and private operators are also required to apply the instructions dictated by the Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Labour and Professional Insertion, according to a Ministry press release, noting that the preservation of the safety and health of workers and professionals is a priority, in accordance with the High Royal Orientations.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 25, 2020: WHO suspends testing of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine against COVID-19

The tests of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in the fight against COVID-19 have been temporarily suspended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to assess their effectiveness, said Monday its Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WHO has temporarily suspended the use of hydroxychloroquine in the solidarity trial,” Mr Tedros said during a virtual press conference from Geneva.

This decision follows the publication of a study on Friday in the medical journal The Lancet that found that the use of chloroquine or its derivatives such as hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19 is ineffective or even harmful, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual press conference.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 26, 2020: Despite the authorization of the Ministery of Interior, the managers of cafés and restaurants against a resumption of their activity

After more than two months’ closure of cafés and restaurants, the government announced a conditional takeover authorisation. But the National Association of Coffee Shop and Restaurant Owners (ANPCR), not everyone agrees with this decision.

After two months of closure, café and restaurant managers were finally allowed to partially reopen their businesses, under certain conditions. Thus the restart of activity will only include “takeaway” and home delivery services. This decision by the Ministry of the Interior, which authorises the resumption of activity after the Eid Al Fitr festival, concerns about 200,000 cafés and restaurants.

This recovery will be gradual and should guarantee all measures of hygiene and social distancing, reports the daily Al Akhbar.

The other condition imposed by the Ministry of the Interior according to the newspaper is the declaration to the CNSS of all the employees of these cafés and restaurants, before they can return to work.

Nevertheless, the National Association of Coffee Shop and Restaurant Owners (ANPCR) denounces this measure taken “in haste, without prior communication”. Contacted by H24 Info, the president of the ANPCRM, Noureddine Harrak, stresses that “for the moment the media are talking about this decision, but no official communication has been sent to us”

A recovery without a plan: A lack of communication in addition to the “absolute silence and total disregard of the committee and the government, which had in fact announced the order to close our shops only a few hours before the state of health emergency came into force,” criticizes Noureddine Harrak.

A situation that worsened during the containment, continues our interlocutor who also denounces the “lack of interaction” of the decision-makers with the representative of the sector .

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 26, 2020: Resumption of the commercial activity of the markets in Oujda, next Saturday

A source who attended this morning’s meeting of heads of business associations and local authorities, as well as the services of the municipality of Oujda, revealed that the gradual reopening of commercial markets in the Millennium City will begin next Saturday.

The traders agreed with the authorities on the precautionary measures and measures that trade associations must provide in all markets, and the traders themselves, with the necessary protective, preventive, hygienic and spacing equipment, to prevent the spread of COVID disease19 . Oujda was declared “free of COVID-19” on Monday.

We have also learned that the local authorities will hold further meetings in the coming days, with each association separately, to discuss the procedures that will be applied in the field.

Before the stores reopen, the group will work through the same source, and through the company authorized to manage the garbage collection, and the municipal health office, to clean and sterilize all the markets.

For more information (in Arabic), please consult the following link.

May 26, 2020: Morocco authorizes the return of Renault executives by special flights

Executives from Renault and its suppliers have been authorized by the authorities to travel to Morocco from May 26 to join the automotive group’s industrial units on special flights chartered from a private operator, even though no less than 32,000 Moroccans remain stranded abroad since the closure of the borders in mid-March.

The Tangiers and Casablanca production sites were among the first to resume operations in pre-deconfinement mode. From this Tuesday, May 26, special repatriation operations will begin and will involve nearly a hundred Renault executives and some of their suppliers, authorized by the authorities to travel to the country on special flights to reach their factories, according to corroborating sources, while Morocco’s borders are still closed and 32,000 nationals of the kingdom are still stranded abroad.

Available on the booking site of Avico, a private freight company, a dedicated platform has been set up and should be used to offer air tickets on the Paris – Valladolid and Bucharest – Tangiers route, where Renault has industrial units and centers. As indicated by Avico, flights Paris CDG – Tangier and Bucharest Otopeni – Tangier for this Tuesday, May 26 are confirmed.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 27, 2020: AfDB Grants €264 million to Morocco

The African Development Bank (AfDB) on Wednesday in Abidjan, approved 264 million euros of financing for Morocco within the framework of its support programme for the COVID-19 response, the Bank learns.

“With a rapid deployment of resources, PARC-19 contributes to the Kingdom’s response efforts to the health, economic and social crisis triggered by the COVID-19 epidemic,” the AfDB said in a statement.

“Faced with this unprecedented situation, we are doing everything possible to support Morocco in containing the spread of the virus and mitigating its economic and social consequences,” said Mohamed El Azizi, AfDB DG for North Africa, adding that with PARC-19, “we are doing so through a multidimensional and targeted approach.

In order to protect the population, the programme’s primary objective is to help limit the spread of the virus and further improve the effectiveness of the authorities’ health response. Thus, it will contribute to increasing the number of hospitals authorized to carry out virological screening, the same source adds.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 27, 2020: The situation of Senegalese traders stuck in the desert on the Mauritanian border

A total of 105 Senegalese carriers are stuck in Dakhla in the middle of the desert south of the Sahara because of the closure of the borders by the Mauritanian authorities,

These carriers are used to trading with Morocco by transiting through the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott. Stuck in the middle of the Sahara desert, it is impossible for them to reach Senegal by land. Mor Sall Drame, spokesman for a group of 16 Senegalese transporters, presents the situation.

“We are really tired. The Senegalese government isn’t doing anything for us. I came to Casablanca on March 3. I stayed there for a few days. The time to sell my goods and take some more for Senegal. I left Casablanca on March 15,” he says.

“When we went to the border on 19 March, the borders were already closed. Some Senegalese were even stuck in the no-man’s-land between Morocco and Mauritania. We had to demonstrate for the Senegalese authorities to intervene and have our brothers escorted to Senegal,” explains the Senegalese carrier.

“But we who were stuck on the Moroccan side were not so lucky. We had to return to Dakhla. We called the Senegalese embassy and the consulate to help us, but without success,” he continued, adding that there are about 60 of them stuck there. “The government has abandoned us. We want to go home. We don’t have any more money. Our goods are rotting in the sun,” he laments.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 28, 2020: The Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Habous denied allegations of reopening mosques in all parts of the Kingdom

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Habous denied allegations of reopening mosques in all regions of the Kingdom On Thursday, June 4,.

In a statement, the ministry condemned the misleading information disseminated on some websites and social networks regarding the reopening of mosques in all regions of the Kingdom on Thursday, June 4, 2020.

The statement recalls the seriousness of the propagation of such false news especially in these circumstances and states that everything concerning religious affairs, is announced through the usual official channels.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 28, 2020: Reopening of cafés and restaurants from Friday, May 29th

Closed for a little over two months due to the state of health emergency, cafés and restaurants will reopen this Friday, but only for delivery service and take-out orders.

Rumour has been going around since Eid Al Fitr. Will restaurants and cafés be back in operation after more than two months? The answer is yes, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has just announced the decision in a press release.

In the document, the ministry states that the opening will only apply to cafés and restaurants that provide home delivery service, or take out “take-away” orders. The premises will remain empty, only staff will be allowed to enter.

The communiqué specifies that a special commission will be responsible for carrying out surprise checks to ensure compliance with the health measures listed as follows:

Checking the cleanliness of the equipment and disinfecting it throughout the day, in addition to sufficient ventilation of the rooms. The number of staff will have to be reduced to avoid the risk of contagion, the communiqué calls on those responsible to find ways of rotating staff to ensure the safety of employees.
In addition to respecting the rules of distance between clients and employees, establishments will have to make hydroalcoholic gels and maks available to their clients and ensure awareness of the dangers of the epidemic. The communiqué insists on food control throughout the process.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

May 28, 2020: ONCF will start a progressive resumption of transportation on June 1st

The National Railways Office (ONCF) is strengthening, from Monday 1 June 2020, the offer of fast shuttle trains (TNR), maintained at reduced speed during the period of confinement on the nearby Casa Port-Settat, Casa Port-El Jadida and Casa Port-Rabat-Kanitra routes.

The ONCF announced Thursday in a statement that the number of services will increase from 20 to 40 trains per day, combined with the reopening of the Rabat Agdal and Salé Tabriquet stations, and this “in full compliance with the measures issued by the competent authorities and following the gradual evolution of demand”.

To this end, the Office is putting in place an appropriate system of protection and health security measures, while introducing new travel rules to “accompany the gradual resumption of traffic and ensure optimal conditions for protected travel,” the statement said.

The system also provides for a battery of preventive and proactive security measures to help protect against COVID-19 and to ensure strict compliance with health measures, including screening passengers at the entrance to stations to separate flows, controlling the wearing of masks in stations and on board trains, making hydro-alcoholic gels available in stations and on board trains, as well as reinforced and continuous cleaning and disinfection of trains and shared areas in stations.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

May 28, 2020: Taxi drivers are tested for coronavirus

After more than two months of work interruption due to COVID-19, the drivers of large and small taxis in the cities of Rabat, Salé and Témara are preparing to return to work. They are pleading for an increase in their fares.

Meetings have been organized between officials of the Salé prefecture and representatives of the taximen’s unions, reports Hespress. Several decisions have been taken, including exemption from payment of the rental fee for three months and an increase in the fare.

The final decision on the payment of the rental fee for the licences will finally be adopted at a meeting to be held on Tuesday. As for fare costs, the upward review of large taxi fares has been proposed due to the reduction in the number of passengers during the period of sanitary confinement, says the regional secretary of the taximen union affiliated to the General Union of Moroccan Workers (UGTM), Hassan Doukali.

The fare for large taxis will increase by 50 per cent, while the cost of small taxis is not expected to change. The other major decision taken during this meeting was the wearing of health protection masks by taxi drivers and passengers.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 28, 2020: Publication of a set of guidelines for the management of the risk of COVID-19 contamination in the workplace

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and the Green and Digital Economy and the Ministry of Labour and Professional Integration inform all employers and social partners, as part of the support for the resumption of economic activity, of the development of a set of guidelines for the management of the risk of COVID-19 contamination in workplaces. It aims to establish general orientations relating to precautionary measures. it also aims to guarantee healthy working conditions to protect the health and safety of employees and thus limit the spread of contamination by the virus.

The said protocol was drawn up in accordance with Decree-Law No. 2.20.292 laying down specific provisions for a state of health emergency and the measures for its announcement, in particular Articles 3 and 5 thereof, and in accordance with the provisions of Decree No. 2.20.293 on the announcement of a state of health emergency throughout the national territory to deal with the spread of COVID-19.

The prevention and protection measures recommended by this protocol concern, in particular, the planning and organization of work, access to work premises, hygiene in the workplace, the organization of the catering service, transport, and the care of symptomatic persons and suspect cases. Other sectoral guides taking into account the specificities of each economic activity will also be developed.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 29, 2020: Hotels and hostels forced to lower their prices

For several years now, many Moroccans have been opting for holidays abroad, particularly in Spain, arguing that with the same budget, or even less, they are entitled to a better quality of service, compared to the “overpriced” national offer proposed by hotels, inns or guest houses.

In terms of figures, billions of dirhams are transferred abroad every year by Moroccans who go there for holidays or other purposes, and Morocco does not benefit from this, because according to many Moroccans, many of whom have published their testimonies on social networks, the national tourism offer is “mediocre” and the quality of services is not satisfactory.

But with the health crisis linked to COVID-19 and the closure of borders, tourism professionals, especially hotels and inns, will have no choice but to lower their rates to encourage national tourism and attract Moroccans to their structures, which they had boycotted for many years.

According to Zoubir Bouhout, Director of the Provincial Council of Tourism in Ouarzazate, the drop in prices at the level of hotel establishments and inns “is no longer a choice but a necessity”.

It is a necessity for two reasons, he continues, the most important of which is that it will allow the tourism sector to survive and recover, after the loss of nearly 64 billion, during the period of health emergency which has already lasted 3 months.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 29, 2020: Renault’s austerity cure doesn’t spare Morocco

The Renault group’s severe cost-cutting plan announced in France is expected to impact Moroccan production. In addition to considering job cuts worldwide, Renault also intends to abandon its plan to expand its production sites in Morocco.

They will, therefore, have to revise downwards the target of 500,000 vehicles produced in 2022, as promised in 2018. This is a real “austerity cure” for the French group Renault. According to an AFP dispatch, the car manufacturer is planning to cut about 15,000 jobs worldwide. 4,600 are located in France. As for its Japanese partner Nissan, the closure of its Spanish production site is planned.

Morocco is also affected by this severe cost-cutting plan estimated at 2 billion euros, which would affect four sites in France, as are other countries such as Romania. Among the announcements to be made on 29 May, “the abandonment of the extension project in Morocco”, AFP said, citing trade union sources. This is probably the extension project presented to Mohammed VI by Carlos Ghosn in 2018, in the presence of Moulay Hafid Elalamy, which was to involve the Somaca factory in Casablanca and that of Tangiers.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 29, 2020: Chloroquine – Morocco goes against the tide of WHO

The Minister of Health, Khalid Ait Taleb, said: “The effectiveness of chloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 can be proven”. He went on to say that “Morocco has assumed this responsibility because of the effectiveness of this drug, which can be proven”, stressing that “the Kingdom did not take this decision by chance or because there was no alternative, but because there are clinical trials that have shown positive results”. Ait Taleb explains in the same vein, that the Ministry has a series of studies conducted on this subject and is working on three studies on the use of chloroquine.

After noting that “chloroquine has been used for a long time in the treatment of chronic diseases and malaria, under certain conditions”, Mr. Ait Taleb said that this molecule had never caused controversy before today, noting that a package of this drug costs only 12 Dhs.

He also stressed that the World Health Organization (WHO) had not banned the treatment with chloroquine, but that it has suspended the clinical trials it is conducting on this subject, because the doctor remains the only person who can judge the effectiveness of the treatment.

For more information (in French), please see the following link.

May 29, 2020: Abderrahmane Youssoufi, the Last of the Wise Men

The former Prime Minister of King Mohammed VI and, before him, of his father Hassan II died at the age of 96. A key figure in the contemporary history of the kingdom, he inspired generations of politicians and activists.

“Morocco has lost a great man. And I have lost my mentor and my second father”: the tweet from the President of the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH), Amina Bouayach, says a lot about what Abderrahmane El Youssoufi means to many Moroccans. The man who ended his political career by ensuring the delicate transition between Hassan II and Mohammed VI, worked alongside the emblematic figures of the liberation, trained and supervised the future socialist leaders, inspired generations of activists and, above all, forced the admiration of all, including his fierce opponents.

Emblematic figure: Abderrahmane El Youssoufi lived and shaped the political history of post-independence Morocco. He has been an influential actor in all the key political events that have marked the kingdom over the last 60 years: the split within the Istiqlal party and the creation of the UNFP (the forerunner of the Socialist Party), the death of Sultan Mohammed V, the first constitution and the first elections of the kingdom, the state of exception … until the formation of the government of Political Alternation which he led in 1998 after years of negotiations with Hassan II.

With the late monarch, he lived through everything: prison, the courts – both in his lawyer’s robe and in the dock -, exile, reconciliation and then secrets… many secrets. “At a dinner party he explained to me that for him a political fridend is someone who could keep secrets. And that his closest political friend was none other than the late King Hassan II,” Hamid Berrada told Jeune Afrique. “He had a unique career: he was both a formidable opponent and one of the great servants of the monarchy,” adds the journalist, who had a special relationship with El Youssoufi.

Moreover, the man who accompanied Mohammed VI during his first years of reign, gave up his seat as Prime Minister in 2002 without making any waves, when the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), of which he was still First Secretary, had won the legislative elections. “Better still, he helped Driss Jettou to form his government and convinced his party to participate in it, while declaring in private and in public that this appointment ‘did not correspond to the democratic methodology’,” Hamid Berrada tells us.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 30, 2020: Covid-19 testing for Moroccan returnees from Algeria

Moroccan returnees from Algeria were accommodated in a hotel in Saidia to observe a mandatory quarantine. They are due to undergo an initial coronavirus test this evening to rule out any infection.

After landing earlier Saturday in Oujda, the 300 Moroccans repatriated from Algeria were taken to Saidia for mandatory quarantine.

A first group is staying in five-star hotel “Be Live Saïdia hotel,” says a member of this group. “We have been informed that we will stay here for nine days,” the same source added.

Also, they will receive food in their rooms. Meals will be placed in front of their door three times a day. They are also prohibited from using the hotel’s other facilities, such as the swimming pool, spa and gym.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 30, 2020: Hammam owners point out the lack of attention on the resumption of their activity (Document)

In a press release, the National Federation of Associations of Owners and Managers of Traditional Hammams and Showers in Morocco calls on the government to set a date for the resumption of the activity.

On the list of economic activities prohibited by the administrative authorities since the beginning of the state of a health emergency, traditional hammams are still not allowed to reopen. Professionals are calling for urgent measures to save the sector.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 30, 2020: Morocco’s exports drop by 20% at the end of April

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis and the measures of the state of health emergency on Morocco’s foreign trade is unprecedented at all levels

Foreign trade statistics at the end of April, published by the Foreign Exchange Office, show a 19.7% drop in exports, i.e. 20 billion DH less. Imports fell at the same rate: -21.3 billion DH (-12.6%).
In April alone, the fall is vertiginous: -47.2% for exports (-12 billion DH) and -33% for imports (-15 billion).

The trade balance deficit did not deteriorate significantly: -67.5 billion DH at the end of April, i.e. 1.3 billion more. However, taking into account the deterioration in travel receipts, MRE transfers and FDI, the impact on the balance of payments is considerable.
Except for phosphates, which sales have stabilised, all the major exporting sectors have been struck by the effects of the drop in world demand, the breakdown of logistics chains and the cessation of several activities in Morocco.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 30, 2020: A Moroccan-Senegalese man dies in Dakar because of coronavirus

A Morocco-Senegalese died Friday in Dakar from coronavirus. According to Le360, citing sources at the Kingdom’s embassy and members of the Moroccan community established in Senegal, Mohamed T.B. was born in Morocco in 1934 to a Moroccan father and a Senegalese mother. The first member of the Moroccan community to die of COVID-19, he held Senegalese nationality and was part of the first generation of Moroccans established in this West African country.

He was monitored at the health centre in Dalal Jamm (a suburb of Dakar) after testing positive for COVID-19. He was to be transferred to the National University Hospital Centre of Fann, Dakar, but he died.

This death, confirmed by a local source contacted by Yabiladi, was also announced by the Senegalese Ministry of Health. According to the latest assessment of this Saturday, 3,535 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Senegal against 1,761 remissions. The number of deaths amounts to 42 people.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 31, 2020:  Start on Monday of an initiative to establish CNIE for the benefit of the MREs.

The Directorate General of National Security (DGSN) announced that it will launch, starting this Monday, an exceptional operation to establish electronic national identity cards (CNIE) for the benefit of members of the Moroccan community residing abroad, who are currently in Morocco due to the state of health emergency and who are required to renew their biometric passports to be able to reach their countries of residence.

In a press release, the DGSN states that this operation is aimed at renewing the CNIE for the benefit of all Moroccan citizens habitually residing abroad since it is a basic and reference document in the procedure for renewing biometric passports that expired during the period of closure of the Kingdom’s border posts because of the precautionary measures adopted to curb the spread of the epidemic of the new coronavirus.

The DGSN will endeavour to provide all the necessary facilities for the completion of this exceptional operation, adds the same source.
The communiqué states that the Directorate General of National Security has also begun coordinating with the competent government services to facilitate the obtaining of consular registration certificates for citizens who cannot obtain this document, which is proof of residence or domicile.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.