08 – 14 June, 2020 | Press Review

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June 08, 2020: Private labs allowed to do COVID-19 testing

The Minister of Health has just extended the authority to test for COVID-19 to private biological testing laboratories.

“They will now be able to test for COVID-19 from samples sent to them by public health care facilities. They will carry out this mission as subcontractors on a voluntary basis,” reports L’Economiste, quoting the president of the Chambre syndicale des biologistes, Adnane Rhazali.

The Minister of Health has also set out how the private labs will respond to the new coronavirus response plan. “According to the specifications circulated on Thursday 4 June, this participation will be optional and unpaid,” the newspaper explains.

Thus, samples taken in public health facilities will be sent to private laboratories, along with the analytical kits made available by the Ministry of Health. These analyses will be carried out according to the technique known as RT-PCR, “the most common technique since the start of the pandemic worldwide”.

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

June 08, 2020: Discussion of bill No. 72.18 that will target beneficiaries of social programs

Bill No. 72.18, on the mechanism for targeting the beneficiaries of social support programmes and the establishment of the National Registers Agency, is currently being examined by a parliamentary committee.

The bill seeks to establish a national system for registering families and persons wishing to benefit from social support programmes supervised by public administrations and local authorities through a unified social register, a national population register and a national registry agency to manage the system.

The processing of personal data and their use in the applications of the national system should take place in compliance with Law 09.08 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of such data.

National population register: creation of a digital national register called “national population register” in which personal data relating to Moroccan and foreign natural persons residing in the national territory will be processed electronically.

The National Population Register offers the possibility of identifying those who wish to be included in the unified social register enabling them to benefit from the social support programmes supervised by the public administrations and local authorities, a process that involves verifying the identity and truthfulness of the information provided for this purpose.

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

June 09, 2020 : Start of repatriation of Moroccans stranded in Spain in 48 hours

The minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans living abroad, Nasser Bourita has announced Tuesday in Rabat that Morocco will begin in 48 hours the repatriation of Moroccans stranded in Spain.

The minister, who was answering a central question in the House of Councillors, said that priority will be given to Moroccan nationals residing in southern Spain, particularly Algeciras, before moving on to Catalonia, the Basque Country and the capital Madrid.

The repatriation operation, which will benefit people with short-term visas, will later be extended to Turkey, France, the Gulf countries and African countries in strict compliance with health measures, he added.

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

June 09, 2020: A 4% recession of Morocco’s real GDP in 2020, according to the World Bank

Due to the health crisis caused by the new coronavirus, the World Bank expects Morocco’s real GDP to fall by 4% in 2020, before returning to growth in 2021 and reach 3.4%.

The World Bank (WB) updated its global economic outlook in a new report released Monday. Thus, the world institution forecasts a 4% recession of Morocco’s real gross domestic product due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). The GDP of the kingdom will return to growth in 2021, with 3.4%, it is estimated.

In its report, the bank acknowledges a difference in percentage points of -7.5% and -0.2% for Morocco’s real GDP in 2020 and 2021 compared to January 2020 projections. But the case of Morocco is obviously not isolated in the region.

Indeed, economic activity in the Middle East and North Africa region is expected to decline by an average of more than 4% as a result of COVID-19 and the evolution of the oil market. Indeed, the institution explains that “consumption, exports and services such as tourism [were] severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic”, while for oil exporters, it also points out that “tax and export revenues have fallen sharply with the collapse of oil prices”.

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

June 09, 2020: Health emergency – El Othmani advances its passage to the House of Representatives

Scheduled for Thursday at 3 p.m., the session of monthly questions to the head of government on public policies will finally take place on Wednesday at 3 p.m.

“I will speak tomorrow, Wednesday 10 June, in the House of Representatives in a public session (…) which will focus on the evolution of containment after 10 June and the effects of the pandemic on Morocco,” writes Saadeddine El Othmani on his Twitter account.

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

June 09, 2020: After debate, the government extends the state of health emergency to July 10

At the end of the Governing Council meeting on 9 June, and after debate, the Executive decided to extend the state of health emergency to 10 July.

It’s official, the state of health emergency will be extended to July 10. The decision came at the end of the Government Council meeting on Tuesday 9 June.

The extension of the state of health emergency is not synonymous with the extension of containment until that date, the state of health emergency being a legal framework enabling the government, through the Ministry of the Interior, to introduce measures for the preservation of public health.

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

June 10, 2020: Where? When? How? What you need to know about the first phase of Moroccan deconfinement

The Ministries of Health and the Interior present their de-confinement plans. A few hours before the Head of Government’s speech on the same subject, and the adoption of a decree extending the state of health emergency until 10 July, the two ministries involved in the management of the coronavirus pandemic issued a joint communiqué detailing the measures to be taken. With the aim of “preparing for a return to normal life and a resumption of economic and social activities”, the two departments announced a series of measures to be implemented from 11 June.

With this in mind, the national territory has been divided into two zones of “lighter measures”, which are divided as follows.

Zone number 1 includes the following prefectures and provinces:

  • The provinces of the Beni Mellal-Khenifra region
  • Prefectures and provinces of the Souss-Massa region
  • The provinces of the Guelmim-Oued Noun region
  • The provinces of the region Laâyoune-Sakia Al Hamra
  • The provinces of the Dakhla-Oued Ed Dahab region
  • The prefecture of M’diq-Fnideq
  • The province of Tetouan
  • The province of Fahs-Anjra
  • The province of Al Hoceima
  • The province of Chefchaouen
  • The province of Ouezzane
  • Meknes Prefecture
  • The province of Ifrane
  • The province of Moulay Yaâcoub
  • The province of Sefrou
  • The province of Boulemane
  • The province of Taounate
  • The province of Taza
  • The province of Khémisset
  • The province of Sidi Kacem
  • The province of Sidi Slimane
  • The province of Settat
  • The province of Sidi Bennour
  • The province of Chichaoua
  • The province of El Kelaâ des Sraghna
  • The province of Essaouira
  • Rehamna Province
  • The province of Safi
  • Youssoufia province

Zone number 2 consists of the following prefectures and provinces:

  • The prefecture of Tangier
  • The province of Larache
  • The province of El Hajeb
  • Rabat Prefecture
  • The prefecture of Skhirat-Temara
  • The province of Kenitra
  • The prefecture of Casablanca
  • Mohammedia Prefecture
  • The province of El Jadida
  • The province of Nouaceur
  • The province of Mediouna
  • The province of Benslimane
  • The province of Berrechid
  • The prefecture of Marrakech

In this joint communiqué, the departments of Ait Taleb and Laftit indicate that any move towards a new phase of deconfinement will depend on a prior assessment of the measures and conditions necessary for the development of the measures in each of the zones of the national territory. These will have to be carried out by local monitoring committees led by the walis and governors, and including representatives of the Ministry of Health.

From 11 June, activities in certain sectors may be relaunched throughout the country:

  • Industry
  • The shops
  • Craftsmanship
  • Local activities and small trades
  • Local shops
  • The liberal professions
  • Weekly souks

Cafés, restaurants, hammams, cinemas and theatres will not be able to reopen their doors to the public.

The Ministries of Health and the Interior also announced a relaxation of restrictions for Zone 1 from 11 June:

  • Exemption from exit permits for travel within a province or prefecture
  • Resumption of public transport with a 50% occupancy rate limit
  • Movement within the region of residence will no longer require the presentation of an authorisation, but of the CIN.
  • Re-opening of hair and beauty salons with a 50% fill rate
  • Reopening of open-air public spaces
  • Resumption of outdoor sports activities

The restrictions still apply to gatherings such as meetings, celebrations and weddings.

In Zone 2, the relief measures provided for are :

  • Maintaining permission to circulate
  • End of business activity at 8 pm
  • Resumption of public transport with a 50% ridership rate

All restrictive measures are maintained. These relief measures will also be applied from 11 June.

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

June 11, 2020: Resumption of mixed and personnel transport under drastic conditions

The Ministry of Public Works, Transport, Logistics and Water management announced, on Wednesday, the gradual resumption of activities relating to mixed transport and personnel transport, while respecting the specificities of each zone (Restriction Relief Zones 1 and 2).

“In consultation with the Ministry of the Interior and in full respect of the orientations of the Ministry of Health, and ensuring the protection of the safety of travellers, professionals and employees, the ministry has set up specifications concerning the dangers of the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, relating to companies and operators of transport services and their employees,” the department said in a statement.

The specifications contain preventive measures and procedures that must be strictly observed by carriers, employees and passengers, with a view to providing a safe service that guarantees the safety and health of all and to limit the spread of the virus.
Accordingly, and as from the date of publication of this communiqué, the following procedure will be adopted for the resumption of mixed transport and personnel transport activities, according to the specific features of zones 1 and 2, while complying with a number of measures.
According to the same source, this involves “initialling all the pages of the specifications relating to public road passenger transport companies, and signing the last page by the company’s legal representative or the person responsible for operations preceded by the words + read,signed and I undertake to comply with the clauses of the specifications”.

The specifications can be downloaded from the official website of the Ministry of Public Works, Transport, Logistics and Water management www.equipement.gov.ma.
The annotated and initialled specifications constitute an exceptional authorisation for the resumption of mixed transport activity and the continuity of personnel transport activity in the areas mentioned, where travel is authorised.

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

June 11, 2020: 310 Moroccans have been repatriated from Spain

Some 310 Moroccans, including 10 babies, stranded in Spain, were repatriated on Wednesday on three flights from the Andalusia region (southern Spain).

These humanitarian operations, which concerned three consular districts, namely Algeciras, Seville and Almeria, benefited in particular people in precarious health, of age and those who no longer have means of subsistence.

On their arrival in Tetouan, these citizens were tested for the new coronavirus (COVID-19), in strict compliance with the health protocol in force, and are now confined to hotel establishments in the M’diq region for a period of nine days, while receiving the necessary medical support.

It should be noted that if positive cases are reported among these Moroccan nationals, they will be taken care of by the health authorities.

This operation was carried out in a calm atmosphere and in full compliance with precautionary measures.

The aircraft operated at two thirds of their capacity, as did the buses carrying the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries were also accompanied by consular officials who provided them with masks and hydro-alcoholic gels, all to ensure that no “health incidents” occurred.

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

June 11, 2020: Borders, mosques, cafes, traffic… what should be retained from the deconfinement in Morocco?

This Thursday, June 11, the plan to reduce containment in Morocco comes into force. Measures that divided the kingdom into two zones and provoked anger and indignation among citizens. Round-up.

Confined since mid-March, Morocco entered, the day after Eid El Fitr at the end of May, in an unofficial deconfinement, with the resumption of many economic activities. Faced with this state of affairs, voices have been raised in recent days to speed up the presentation of the plan for exiting confinement. No one knew the exact content of this plan until 9 June, the day before the lockdown expired.

On the nerves, the Moroccans were eagerly awaiting the release of the Head of Government Saâdeddine El Othmani, who had become the target of all attacks because of his lack of communication.

He finally appeared before Parliament on 10 June. And his word disappointed. The day before, the government council had already ratified a decree specifying the modalities for easing the confinement, thus countering the rumours circulating in some media about a possible extension of the confinement.

During his appearance before the House of Representatives, El Othmani certainly put a definitive end to these doubts. However, he merely relayed the content of the decree, without giving further details or answering questions as to the exact meaning of this “lightening of the containment”.

Morocco divided into two zones: In short, this plan to ease the confinement, and not deconfinement as expected by the majority of Moroccan citizens, exhausted by this psychological ordeal, consist of a gradual lifting of the restrictions imposed so far. But not throughout the country. The plan thus divides Morocco into two zones: a zone 1 where life will practically resume its normal course. And a zone 2 where a confinement will remain in force for a few more weeks…

The anger of “second-class” citizens: The zoning decided by the public authorities is the subject of several criticisms. If zone 1, humorously described by Moroccans as “liberated territory”, concerns, as El Othmani points out, 95% of the territory and affects 60% of the country’s population, zone 2 includes the main urban centres, cities such as Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, Marrakech, centres of concentration of the country’s elites and middle classes and the economic lung of the kingdom. These are the ones that set the tone, especially on social networks where the grumbling against the government is evident. Some editorialists, influencers and opinion-makers consider that the extension of the confinement in these big cities will only worsen the economic and social situation of the country and weigh more on people’s psychology.

Life in the “liberated territories”: Not very convincing for many Internet users, the government’s plan nevertheless allows a return to normal life on almost the entire territory. In zone 1, which represents 95% of the national territory, travel restrictions are, for example, completely lifted. And a large part of the economic activities will resume from this Thursday, June 11: industry, shops, crafts, local activities, local shops, liberal professions, weekly souks … Same for the administrations where all officials have been invited to resume their posts.

Mosques: the faithful asked to wait – Another much-awaited subject, and one that divides Moroccans greatly: the reopening of mosques. It is not up to the Head of Government or his ministers of Health or the Interior to decide. In fact, their plan does not even mention the subject, as this is a matter for the supreme authority of the Commander of the Believers and the Council of Ulemas. And the latter has decided, via a communiqué published on that the kingdom’s mosques will not reopen anytime soon. This reopening will be “in due course”, according to the statement, “in coordination with the Ministry of Health and the competent authorities”.

Uncertainties at the borders: no announcement has been made on this subject, leaving tourist operators in the dark. Ravaged by the COVID -19 crisis, this sector has been completely at a standstill since the border closures. Yet it is one of the country’s biggest employers and one of its main sources of foreign currency. In 2019, Morocco was able to attract more than 13 million tourists with revenues of more than 40 billion dollars for the country. A record that is difficult to repeat in these times of crisis, but operators would at least like to have some visibility to try and save the high season of July-August.

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

June 13, 2020: The UMT pleads for an extension of the financial aid granted to employees declared to the CNSS

The National Labour Union calls on the government to extend, beyond 30 June, the monthly financial aid granted to private employees declared to the National Social Security Fund.

In a correspondence addressed to the head of government and the members of the Economic Intelligence Committee, the trade union centre justifies its request by “the persistence of the repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic in our country”. The UMT also points out that “a large number of workers who meet the conditions for receiving aid have not been able to obtain it”.

The union says that the economic and social situation of workers and their families will worsen further if the aid granted ceases, stressing that not all workers have yet returned to the factories, as several companies are still at a standstill.

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

June 14, 2020: Government to group active cases to speed up deconfinement

In a joint press release from the Ministries of the Interior and Health, it is announced that the active cases of COVID-19 as well as future positive cases will be hospitalized in two dedicated hospital structures to accelerate deconfinement as of June 20.

The press release explains that the evolution of the epidemic is under control and that almost all of the nearly 700 active COVID-19 cases counted nationwide are in a reassuring and stable state of health.

“Instead of keeping these Covid positive cases distributed throughout the Kingdom’s hospitals, which must be released to treat other types of diseases, and given the need to protect them and their family and professional environment, while providing them with the necessary care, it was decided to group them, as well as future positive cases detected, in two specialized health structures, located respectively in Benslimane and Ben Guérir,” the two ministries announced. In Benslimane, this is probably the field hospital. For Benguerir, no indication has been given as to the identity of the dedicated health centre.

The objective of this measure is to accelerate, from June 20, 2020 the process of gradual lifting of the confinement “and this, while taking into account the evolution of the epidemiological situation in the Kingdom”, concludes the press release.

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

June 14, 2020: Morocco provides medical aid to 15 African countries

King Mohammed VI has given instructions for the delivery of medical aid to 15 African countries.

The aid is intended to provide preventive medical equipment to help countries on the continent in their efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry said in a statement. It includes nearly 8 million masks, 900,000 visors, 600,000 floats, 60,000 gowns, 30,000 liters of hydroalcoholic gel, as well as 75,000 boxes of chloroquine and 15,000 boxes of Azithromycin.

The aid will benefit 15 countries in all sub-regions of the continent, namely Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Eswatini, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia, the same source adds.

This solidarity action is part of the implementation of the initiative launched by the King on April 13, 2020, as a pragmatic and action-oriented approach aimed at countries in the rest of the continent to share experiences and best practices and to establish an operational framework to support their efforts in the various phases of managing the pandemic, notes the ministry.

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

14 June, 2020: El Ferdaous (Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports) announces an exceptional programme of support for cultural actors

On his Facebook page, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports has just announced an exceptional programme of support for cultural players from the worlds of art and books, individuals, associations and companies, with a view to mitigating the socio-economic impact of the state of health emergency. A series of measures is involved, the details of which are set out below.

The Minister announces in particular the anticipated distribution by the Moroccan Copyright Office from June 15 all the remaining distributions scheduled for the year 2020, that is to say 35.4 million dirhams. The distribution of the 2019 collections of copyrights and remuneration for private copying will be carried out.

It is also planned to launch a call for artistic projects with a total budget of MAD 39 million, as from June 17. The world of theater, music, performing arts and choreographic arts, plastic arts exhibitions carried by galleries are concerned.

Among the announcements, there is also the acquisition of works of visual arts from artists for a provisional budget of MAD 3 million (it is a question of an amount of MAD 5,000 to MAD 30,000 per work). These works should enrich the Ministry’s collections and encourage young talents. 2 million dirhams from the Ministry’s budget will be added to the fund for the acquisition of plastic and visual arts works from the National Museum Foundation. The total is now 8 million dirhams.

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