December 15 – 21, 2020 | Press Review Morocco

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

December 21, 2020

A new variant of the coronavirus: Morocco suspends flights with the United Kingdom

The Moroccan government has decided to suspend flights with the United Kingdom from the night of Sunday 20 December 2020, following the evolution of the epidemiological situation in the United Kingdom and the emergence of a new variant of the Coronavirus.

A government press release informs that this decision is part of the urgent measures taken to preserve the health of Moroccans and limit the spread of the pandemic.

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

New Year’s Eve festivities are not allowed in hotels, a curfew will begin at 8 pm

The public authorities have called on the various hotels in the Kingdom to stop all activities and reception of guests at 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, with a ban on all musical entertainment during the day. The decision led to a wave of cancellations of reservations for a sector already hard hit by the crisis following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lahcen Zalmat, president of the National Federation of Hotel Industries of Morocco (FNIH), confirmed to Hespress that “the authorities had already contacted the hotels on this subject. “Following our meeting with the Wali, we inform you that nationwide all festivities are prohibited and that a curfew will be observed on the night of 31 December to 1 January 2021 from 20:00 to 6:00 am. In addition, and because of the curfew, the staff on duty that night will not be able to leave the establishment until 6 a.m.,” already indicated in this sense the president of the Regional Association of the Hotel Industry (ARIH) in Marrakech-Safi, Salah Eddine Naciri, in a message sent to his colleagues a few days ago.

This announcement comes in reinforcement of the announcements of 15-day extensions of the anti-COVID-19 measures by the local authorities in Agadir and Taroudant  due to “the increase of cases of contamination during the last weeks”.

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

Taroudant: 15-day extension of anti-COVID-19 measures

The public authorities of Taroudant announced on Sunday the extension by 15 days of the implementation of the measures decided last November to strengthen the prevention against the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
“This extension comes into force from Monday, December 21, 2020,” said a press release from the provincial watch committee.
Following the increase in the number of cases of contamination over the last few weeks, the public authorities in Taroudant have decided on a battery of measures, including the obligation to have an exceptional authorisation to travel to and from Taroudant, with the exception of travel for health and professional reasons, the ban on the broadcasting of football matches by all the town’s cafés, the closure of gardens, public squares and children’s play areas and the closure of shops and cafés from 9pm.
It is also a question of strengthening the strict control of compliance with preventive measures (wearing of masks, physical distancing) and the application of the provisions of the law against offenders.
The authorities have therefore invited the population to take part in these preventive measures in a an effective manner.

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

December 20, 2020

A new, more transmissible strain of COVID-19

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday the reconfinement of several parts of southern England, including London, subject to the highest level of restrictions due to the release of a new, more transmissible strain of COVID-19.

“It appears that this spread is now being fuelled by a new variant of the virus,” which is “much more easily transmitted,” he explained, noting that there is no evidence yet that this variant “is more lethal or causes a more severe form of the disease.

In addition, people in London and south-east England will be placed under a new, fourth and highest level of alert. They will be banned from travelling to other cities in England and from leaving their homes except for work or exercise.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling on its members in Europe to “strengthen their controls” because of the new variant of the coronavirus circulating in the United Kingdom, its European branch said Sunday.

Outside the United Kingdom, a handful of cases have been reported in Denmark (9), as well as one case in the Netherlands and Australia, according to the WHO, which recommends that its members around the world “increase their (capacity to) sequence” the virus before learning more about the risks posed by the variant, a spokeswoman said. Several European countries decided on Sunday to suspend all flights from the United Kingdom after the discovery of the new “out-of-control” variant.

According to the WHO, in addition to “preliminary signs that the variant could be more contagious”, the variant “could also affect the effectiveness of certain diagnostic methods”, again according to “preliminary information”. There is, however, “no evidence of a change in the severity of the disease”, although this is also being investigated.

The WHO will provide more information as soon as it has “a clearer picture of the characteristics of this variant”, said a spokeswoman for WHO Europe. “Across Europe, where transmission is high and widespread, countries need to strengthen their control and prevention procedures,” the UN organisation stressed. At the global level, the WHO recommends that “all countries should increase their capacity to sequence the Sarsov-2 virus where possible and share data internationally, especially if the same problematic mutations are identified”.

In addition to the three countries that have identified the strain from the United Kingdom on their soil, “several other countries have reported to the WHO other variants that carry some of the genetic changes of the British variant”, including a mutation known as “N501Y”. South Africa, which also reported a problematic variant on Friday, believes the N501Y mutation is causing more contagion. The country is “conducting further research to better understand the link,” the WHO said.

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

December 19, 2020

Extension of measures against the spread of COVID-19 in Tiznit

The local authorities of Tiznit announced Friday the extension by one week of the implementation of the exceptional measures decided to strengthen the prevention against the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

This decision follows the conclusions of regular monitoring operations of the evolution of the epidemiological situation, says a press release from the provincial monitoring committee. This extension comes into force from Saturday 19 December 2020 at 6 pm.

The press release also announces the reopening of the hammams with a capacity of 50%.

To cope with the spread of the pandemic, the authorities of Tiznit took several measures on 21 November last, including the obligation to have an exceptional authorisation to travel to and from Tiznit, the ban on the broadcasting of football matches by all the town’s cafés, the closure of gardens, public squares and children’s play areas and the closure of shops and cafés from 8 pm, as well as the ban on wedding parties, funeral ceremonies and gatherings.

They also decided on strict control of compliance with preventive measures (wearing of masks, physical distancing) and to apply the provisions of the law against offenders, while inviting the population to citizen and effective support for these preventive measures.

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

Agadir: Restrictive measures will remain in force for a further 15 days

The local authorities of Agadir Ida-Outanane prefecture announced Saturday the extension by 15 days of the implementation of measures decided to strengthen the prevention against the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

This decision comes following the conclusions of regular monitoring operations of the evolution of the epidemiological situation and after the increase in cases of contamination, says a press release of the prefectural watch committee, noting that this extension comes into force from Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 21H.

To cope with the spread of the pandemic, the local authorities of the prefecture of Agadir Ida-Outanane decided on 20 November last, a set of measures including the closure of beaches as well as the closure of Souk El Had and local markets at 3 pm.

It is also a question of the obligation to have an exceptional authorization to move to and from the prefecture of Agadir-Ida Outanane, the prohibition of all forms of night travel between 9 pm and 6 am except for travel for health and professional reasons and the closure of cafes, restaurants, shops and large shopping centres at 8 pm.

It also includes the closure of Hammams and beauty salons, with the exception of hairdressing salons, the closure of sports halls, parks and grounds in the vicinity, as well as the suspension of bus transport at 9 p.m. and the encouragement of distance working where possible.

The local authorities have therefore invited the population to support these preventive measures.

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

“Taalem Darija”, the campaign that encourages migrants in Morocco to learn Darija (Video)

A certain level of proficiency in the language of the host country is a prerequisite for integration into society. This conviction led the “Papiers Pour Tous” Association, in partnership with the Moroccan Association for Creative Cultural Industries “MadNess”, to launch a campaign to encourage and encourage non-Arabic-speaking foreigners living in Morocco to learn Darija, particularly migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

This campaign comes in the wake of the realisation that the quasi majority of non-Arabic-speaking foreigners, and more particularly migrants, who have been settled in Morocco for several years, do not speak Darija or speak little of it, thereby consecrating the idea of foreigners in transit and not seeking to integrate in the host country, Morocco, according to a joint communiqué by the two associations.

“Papiers Pour Tous” and “MadNess” believe that the time has come to plead in favour of learning the Darija, to invite foreigners, non-Arabic speakers, to make this effort and to call on the authorities to assume their responsibilities and put in place the policies and measures necessary to meet this challenge.

“The Darija apprenticeship will contribute significantly to improving communication between non-Arabic-speaking foreigners and Moroccan citizens in daily life and in the workplace, and to reducing xenophobia, mistrust between communities and racial discrimination,” reads a joint statement.

To this end, “Papiers Pour Tous”, in partnership with MadNess, has produced an awareness-raising capsule that will be shared on social networks.

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

December 18, 2020

Inauguration of the African Migration Observatory in Rabat

The African Migration Observatory was inaugurated on Friday in Rabat, at the proposal of King Mohammed VI, with the aim of developing a process of collection, analysis and exchange of information between African countries in this field.
This inauguration comes a few days before the 2nd anniversary of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration adopted in Marrakech two years ago, said Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.
This creation provides the African continent with an effective tool to meet its real and pressing need to generate better knowledge, understanding and control of the migration phenomenon, he added.
The Observatory must ensure a “triple function” of understanding, anticipation and proposal and must be deployed as an advocacy and decision-making tool, as a platform for dialogue between experts and African stakeholders and as an instrument for strengthening African capacities, thus providing the material to formulate informed and enlightened public policies.
It will contribute to the creation of two deliverable and concrete projects which are the first African migration database and an African Migration Data Portal, similar to the IOM’s one.
The Observatory will serve to advance the African agenda on migration and enable African countries to reap the benefits of a migration-development nexus at a time when the continent is striving to implement the principles of Agenda 2063.
Two integrated specialized agencies for the African Union will also be set up, namely the African Centre for Migration Studies and Research to be established in Bamako, Mali, and the planned Continental Operations Centre in Khartoum, Sudan.

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

COVID-19: Government extends for four weeks the preventive measures in Greater Casablanca and the provinces of Berrechid and Benslimane

The government has decided to extend, for another four weeks, the implementation of the precautionary measures in force at the level of Greater Casablanca (prefectures of Casablanca and Mohammedia and provinces of Nouasseur and Mediouna) and the provinces of Berrechid and Benslimane, starting Sunday, December 20 at 21H.

According to a government statement received Friday at MAP, these measures include a ban on all forms of night travel between 21:00 and 6:00 except for travel for health and occupational reasons, the requirement to have an exceptional authorization to travel to and from the prefectures and provinces mentioned above issued by the competent local authorities and the closure of local land and parks.

It also includes the closure of restaurants and cafés at 8pm, as well as all shops and large shopping centres, the halting of travel by public transport buses and trams at 9pm, the closure of local markets at 3pm and the encouragement of teleworking where permitted, the press release continues.

Preventive measures previously announced, such as the closure of baths and sports halls and a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, will be maintained, the same source said. This decision follows the conclusions of the daily monitoring and regular evaluation operations carried out by the watch and monitoring committees, and in accordance with the recommendations of the scientific and technical commission on the need to continue the measures necessary to deal with the spread of the coronavirus, the press release concludes.

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

December 17, 2020

Chinese Sinopharm vaccine trials resume in Peru

The Peruvian government announced on Wednesday that it has lifted the suspension of trials for the COVID-19 vaccine from the Chinese laboratory Sinopharm. The country’s authorities said they had “clarified” the problem that affected one of the 12,000 volunteers who received the vaccine in the trials, Reuters reported.

The Lima authorities announced on Friday 11 December that they had “temporarily suspended, as a precautionary measure” the clinical trials of Sinopharm’s vaccine following the detection of neurological problems in one of the trial volunteers. The National Institute of Health decided to suspend the trial because one of the test volunteers had difficulty moving his legs due to weakness.

Sinopharm was about to conclude the first part of its tests, with plans to inoculate a second dose of the vaccine over the next three weeks, according to the researchers.

“We had several meetings with Sinopharm and the resumption was finally planned, after resolving the issue of the suspension of the clinical trial, clarifying the situation. The suspension was lifted today,” Health Minister Pilar Mazzetti said at a press conference at the government palace.

Peru’s foreign minister, Elizabeth Astete, announced the day before that negotiations between Peru and Sinopharm for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines were “well advanced” as the country seeks to obtain a large batch of vaccine by 2021.

It should be remembered that Morocco is preparing to launch its vaccination campaign against COVID-19, notably with the vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm.

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

The Policy Center’s recommendations: How to avoid devastating consequences of COVID-19 on the economy?

The upheavals caused by COVID-19 to the global economy are significant. Morocco, like the rest of the world, has suffered this shock and is preparing to relaunch its economic activities in order to emerge from this unprecedented crisis.

In its latest “policy paper”, Policy Center for the New South describes the different channels of transmission of the shock from COVID-19 to the Moroccan economy and assesses its impact on economic growth and macroeconomic and social balances. Entitled “Impacts of COVID-19 on the Moroccan economy: a first assessment”, this paper makes a series of recommendations in terms of economic policies in order to enrich the reflection on the different avenues for reviving the Moroccan economy and the factors necessary to strengthen its resilience.

Content of the crisis

For the authors of this analysis, “the Moroccan economy is on the way to experiencing a recession that is probably more severe than the one in 1995. This recession calls economic decision-makers to question their capacity to curb a crisis of this scale and the room for manoeuvre they have to cushion the socio-economic repercussions before reinvigorating economic activity in a second phase”. In this respect, they explain that the levers of public authorities revolve around two main dimensions: macroeconomic, for better management in the cycle, and structural, which takes into account the possible implications of the health shock on the new fundamental trends of the national and global economy.

Public investment

After recalling the steps taken at the budgetary level, this document agrees that “while public investment may prove to be a preferred choice to support economic activity, it is essential to give priority to investment projects with an almost immediate impact on economic and social activity”, indicating that “Marshallian” investment plans in large-scale projects are not the best suited to reanimate the economic fabric since they risk marking a fairly substantial delay before they have an impact on activity and provide a breath of fresh air to the economy. “The “instant impact” factor is the critical element in this context and any investment or stimulus decision would benefit from being governed by this principle,” note the Policy Center experts.

Strengthening Morocco’s neighbourhood partnerships

The disruptions in global value chains and international trade are likely to lead the major economic powers, particularly Europe, to redefine certain production and marketing patterns. According to this analysis, the experts stress that “due to its very favourable geography, Morocco would be in a better position to benefit from a possible reconfiguration. It is also relevant that Morocco should make its neighbourhood partners a first-rate choice. The Maghreb, one of the least integrated regions in the world and one which abounds in potential, should be made a strategic priority for all the countries of the region”, adding that in the hope of a more integrated Maghreb, Morocco should strengthen its African roots and make French-speaking Africa an axis of redeployment throughout the continent. In the same direction, the entry into force in early 2021 of the continental free trade area (ZLECAF) would be the essential vector for a densification of trade relations with the continent and deeper integration of the national productive fabric with its African counterpart. “The changes on the horizon could install new economic paradigms, and free trade would give way to a more thoughtful and proximity oriented opening”, the same source says.

More effective social policy

The COVID-19 crisis has shown the need to strengthen social policies. “The use, for the first time in the country’s history, of a direct transfer system for the benefit of vulnerable households in the informal sector on this scale is a challenge that was met by the authorities within a tight timeframe.
The system is obviously not free from criticism or improvement, but it can provide a solid initial basis for the establishment of a permanent and conditional transfer programme for this social class capable of guaranteeing them a minimum income”, the authors of this document point out, adding that the introduction of these social safety nets should be part of a comprehensive social policy that would suspend the various sectoral or active niche social programmes. “The budget item under this heading should not add to public finances, but rather be fed on the basis of already existing programmes,” it is explained.

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

December 16, 2020

Morocco has not yet received any doses of the vaccine against COVID-19

Morocco has not yet received any dose of the vaccine anti-COVID-19 so far, Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb said Tuesday, December 15.

In a presentation to the Social Sectors Committee in the House of Representatives on the national strategy for vaccination against COVID-19, the minister described as fake news the information relayed by some media and social networks on this subject.

The launch of the national vaccination campaign is dependent on the receipt of the first doses from one of the companies with which a contract has been concluded, he said.

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

How will the vaccination campaign against COVID19 take place?

Pending receipt of the first doses of the Covid19 vaccine, the authorities are working to launch the vaccination operation, which will last no more than three months.

The campaign will be spread over 12 weeks at a rate of six working days out of seven and four 21-day periods, i.e. an average of 150 to 200 vaccinations per day for each health worker, with the establishment of a duty system to ensure the normal functioning of other health services.

The planned two-stage vaccination, two separate doses over 21 days, will primarily target front-line workers, including health workers, public authorities, security services and national education sector staff. Then it will reach other categories of citizens according to their age.

Vaccination areas and points have been set up as units attached to health centres, which will provide services in two modes: the first will see beneficiaries move themselves to vaccination stations. In the second mode, mobile units will travel to hospitals, factories, administrations, university campuses or prisons.

In order to manage this national campaign, a computer system has been adopted to enable prior registration and appointment scheduling, with registration being automatic for holders of the national identity card or residence permit.

All other people are required to register with the local authorities in their place of residence to benefit from the vaccination, which is based on free, transparent, solidarity and voluntary work. After registering and making an appointment, an SMS will be sent to those concerned via the number 1717 to inform them of the date and vaccination centre.

This system, which has an electronic vaccination register, also includes data related to the identity of the people to be vaccinated, the type of vaccine, and the dates of administration of the two doses.

Similarly, vaccination teams are equipped with tablets connected to the Internet to register beneficiaries. Beneficiaries will be monitored remotely via the “Jawaz Assiha” application and the “Yakadaliqah” platform in order to monitor any side effects. This will enable the management of the stock of vaccines, syringes and various other tools required for this purpose.

A total of 25,631 medical staff will be mobilised to supervise the operation, including more than 11,000 in urban areas.

The Ministry has also developed a communication plan, a portal dedicated to the campaign, an SMS service on the vaccine (1717) and a telephone service.

At the territorial level, the strategy provides for the setting up of a joint technical commission with representation from the Ministries of the Interior and Health, which meets periodically to prepare the operation and check its operational aspects.

Dispelling fears about possible effects of the vaccine, Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb who presented Tuesday before a parliamentary committee “the national strategy of vaccination against COVID-19”, reassured citizens by saying that clinical trials of the vaccine have not yet recorded serious side effects but only local side effects, such as pain at the injection site, rash, headaches and fatigue.

The national vaccination campaign is a genuine response to the pandemic with the aim of achieving a coverage rate of at least 80%, which is necessary to ensure herd immunity and progress towards a return to normal life.

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

December 15, 2020

Lightening of preventive measures against COVID-19 in Oujda-Angad

The prefectural authorities of Oujda-Angad announced on Monday the easing and revision of certain restrictive measures aimed at stopping the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

A statement from the prefecture explains the adoption of this decision, applicable from next Wednesday (December 16), by the gradual decline in the number of cases of contamination with COVID-19 and by the implementation of recommendations from the meeting of the monitoring unit, held Monday.

It was thus decided to close down cafés, restaurants and all commercial, professional and service premises, including hotels, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., while the start of the night curfew was postponed by two hours. It will now be from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. (previously 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.).

It also involves maintaining the ban on broadcasting football matches in cafés and restaurants, and cancelling the measures relating to the closure of weekly souks and the working hours of local markets.

The press release also announces the maintenance of the imposition of exceptional travel authorisations to and from the territory of the Oujda-Angad prefecture, in addition to setting the capacity of hammams, hairdressing salons and indoor sports halls at 50 pc, and the capacity of public transport at 75 pc.

The new measures also concern the reopening of public gardens, the adoption of total sanitary confinement for family members living with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus, and the prohibition of any gathering of more than 20 people, including family gatherings (weddings, funerals, etc.).

In the communiqué, the prefectural authorities invite citizens to respect the above-mentioned measures and those in force at the national level, in particular the wearing of masks, physical distancing and safety instructions to stem the spread of the pandemic.

They also encourage the various institutions to give priority, as far as possible, to teleworking, noting that the cancellation, lightening or hardening of these preventive measures remains dependent on the improvement of the epidemiological situation of the coronavirus in the territory of the Oujda-Angad prefecture.

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