In Morocco, reopening of air borders under sanitary conditions

This is a relief for many Moroccans. Nationals of the kingdom stranded abroad since the end of November by the closure of airspace have returned to their country since Monday.

The entry and exit of Mohammed V airport in Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco, is teeming with people on Monday afternoon. Travelers preparing to leave meet those returning after more than two months of suspension of passenger flights due to the health crisis.

Strict restrictive measures

The reopening of air borders – somewhat overshadowed by the tragic death of little Rayan who fell into a well in the north of the country – is accompanied by strict restrictive measures to enter Moroccan territory.

All travelers must present a vaccination pass and a negative PCR test less than 48 hours old, according to a government press release. On arrival in Morocco, he is subjected to a rapid antigen test and “random” PCR tests are carried out on groups of passengers. Passengers who test positive will be required to self-isolate in their place of residence.

Colossal losses for tourism

The suspension of passenger flights has hit tourism, a key sector of the country’s economy, hard. The losses, over two years, are colossal: 20 million travelers and 90 billion dirhams (more than 8 billion euros) in foreign currency income.

Admittedly, an emergency plan of two billion dirhams (nearly 190 million euros) has been deployed but without convincing the tourist actors who consider it too timid. “Opening the borders is a very timely and long-awaited decision. A significant step,” Jalil Benabbès-Taarji, president of the National Association of Tourism Investors (ANIT), told AFP.

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Vaccines, testing and re-testing

The conditions of entry to Morocco, even if they are more flexible than before the closure of the borders on November 29, are however too restrictive, regret the professionals of the sector.

For tourists, in addition to the vaccination pass and the PCR test, the authorities provide “the possibility of carrying out an additional test at the hotel or at the residence center 48 hours after their entry into the territory”. If the planes take off again, the maritime transport of passengers remains suspended, specified an informed source to the Minister of Transport, without however communicating a date of resumption.

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