Updated: Mar 7
As colleges around the United States started to announce the implementation of online courses for the rest of the semester, students began to understand that this Coronavirus is critical. Spring breakers started canceling their trips to Cancun, Miami Beach or Punta Cana and were urgently looking for a flight back home. After President Trump’s ban of entry to Europeans, it was predictable that international flights were going to become scarce in the United States.
For those that were lucky enough to book a seat on one of those last flights, high precautions had to be taken by every passenger. A mask and hand sanitizer became travel-essentials to guaranteeing a safe trip.
For my part, arriving at Casablanca Mohammed V Airport could easily have been a scene taken from an apocalyptic movie. All flights grounded on the tarmac, deserted terminals, and a foggy day. With only 54 confirmed cases two weeks ago, Morocco already decided to close its borders and declare a nation-wide state of confinement. I immediately realized that I was on the last flight from the United States to Morocco.
After looking at the rapid spread of Coronavirus in a neighboring country like Spain, the Moroccan government understood that if it didn’t act quickly and effectively, officials could easily be dealing with a severe prevalence of this virus, like numerous Europeans countries are today. That being said, I knew that the closing of borders wasn’t going to scare Moroccans and make them stay home. This is why I wasn’t surprised to hear that the army was going to roam the streets of all cities in Morocco to guarantee the implementation of the state of confinement. Firm measures were also put in place to allow movement strictly for buying groceries and medication or for seeking medical attention. You now need to fill out a form indicating the reason you’re leaving your home and have it signed by a local authority.
On that note, to compensate employees for not being able to go to work, funds were raised by different public and private entities. As of today, more than 2.5 billion dollars have been collected and will directly be allocated to families in need of financial support during these difficult times. The Ministry of Health has also declared that all expenses involving a patient suffering from Coronavirus will be paid by the Moroccan government.
With all these measures being taken, Moroccans realized these past weeks that this Coronavirus is a serious threat. By taking drastic measures early, the king of Morocco and his government chose to prioritize their people over the economy. It is now time for the Moroccan people to follow the directives set by the authorities.
On March 29, protests erupted late at night in Tangiers and Fes. Demonstrators were complaining about the state of confinement, arguing that they need to leave their homes to work in order to feed their families. By risking their lives and going out to the streets, these people were voicing the concerns of a significant portion of Moroccans that were out of a job overnight. These unexpected protests are an example of why governments should work together with their societies in difficult times like these in order to raise awareness and prevent any disruptions to the safety of their populations.
If this Coronavirus cannot be contained in the weeks to come, Morocco will be faced with a problem. The country will be observing Ramadan in less than a month. After this point, it will become much more difficult for people to stay home. They will need to go to work in order to afford the necessary groceries for this holy month. They will also want to pray in mosques after breaking their fast. These rituals Moroccans have during this month of Ramadan will thus put the country’s state of confinement in serious jeopardy.
In this regard, it is of great essence that we all unite business, government, and society to bring an end to this Coronavirus pandemic as soon as possible in order to prevent any kind of complications in the weeks to come.
Born and raised in Morocco, Maati is currently finishing his last semester at The George Washington University. Double majoring in international affairs and economics, Maati chose to intern at the Washington Institute for Business, Government, and Society as he was fascinated by the projects the Institute is undertaking and also believed it was a great fit with his fields of study.