Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Morocco and Israel decide to extend the closure of their borders

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Tuesday, December 14th 2021 à 16:20 | Read 326 times

The planes will remain nailed until the end of the year 2021 on the Moroccan tarmacs (photo F.Dubessy)
The planes will remain nailed until the end of the year 2021 on the Moroccan tarmacs (photo F.Dubessy)
MOROCCO. In order to "preserve Morocco's achievements in the fight against the pandemic", the Moroccan General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) decided, on Friday 10 December 2021, to extend the suspension of "all passenger flights to and from Morocco from 9 December until at least 31 December 2021".

In its note published on the evening of Thursday 9 December 2021, the organisation specified that exceptional repatriation flights (mainly to Europe and in particular France) were still subject to authorisation by the Moroccan authorities. Khalid Aït Taleb, Moroccan Minister of Health, indicated that his government was studying the possibility of repatriating its nationals stranded abroad since the closure of air borders. For its part, on social networks, Royal Air Maroc communicated on the maintenance of its "special flights already scheduled between 10 and 13 December 2021, from Morocco to Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Mauritania". Air Arabia also stresses that "repatriation flights from Morocco are still operational". The airline is planning departures to France, Belgium, Spain and Switzerland until 13 December 2021.

Maritime passenger services are also suspended until 31 December 2021.

Ryanair and easyJet no longer operate to Morocco

A first announcement on 28 November 2021 foresaw a closure of the borders for a fortnight from Monday 29 November 2021 at 23:59. The Moroccan inter-ministerial committee for monitoring the pandemic justified this decision by its desire to "preserve the achievements made by Morocco in the fight against the pandemic and to protect the health of its citizens". A few hours earlier, Morocco had suspended regular flights to and from France because of the increase in infections and the arrival of the Omicron variant.

In early December 2021, Ryanair opted not to fly to Morocco until 1 February 2022, "due to a lack of clarity from the Moroccan government regarding its flight ban". The low-cost airline was following a similar decision taken by its rival easyJet a few hours earlier, which cited the fact that its pilots refused to risk the safety of passengers if a Covid-19 patient was refused repatriation to Morocco.

According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, since the beginning of the pandemic, Morocco has experienced 951,092 cases of Covid-19 and 14,794 deaths (including 60 in the last 28 days).

Compensation for tourism professionals

Moroccan tourism, which counted on this period to save its year 2021, does not welcome this extension. All the more so as its actors were hoping, on the basis of a rumour quickly denied by the Ministry of Health, for a resumption of the end-of-year holidays. Already, a few days ago, the professionals, through the voice of Mohamed Semlali, president of the National Federation of Travel Agencies of Morocco (FNAVM), estimated that the suspension of air and sea lines could constitute "a fatal blow to the sector. They called for urgent action.

On Thursday 9 December 2021, the Moroccan government published a decree with a series of measures to support employees in the tourism sector. Compensation will be granted by the National Social Security Fund (CNSS) for the period between September and December 2021, but only for employees working in tourism-related sectors, mainly hotel accommodation, tourist transport and guides. However, they must have been registered with the CNSS since at least February 2020.

Israel closes until Christmas Eve

On Sunday 28 November 2021, Israel was the first country to close its borders to foreign nationals to protect itself from the Omnicron variant, which has been detected in some 20 cases and suspected in another 100. The fourteen-day deadline for this measure has just been extended, on Thursday 9 December 2021, by a further ten days from 12 December 2021.

All Israelis vaccinated against Covid-19 arriving in the country, even with a three-dose regimen, will be required to undergo a PCR test upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport before observing a quarantine at home. Passengers will be required to undergo a second test on the third day of arrival and, if negative, break their isolation. Those who have not been vaccinated or who have not received the third dose, even though the second dose was given more than six months ago, will remain in isolation for seven days.

According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, Israel has recorded 1.35 million confirmed cases since the start of Covid-19 and 8,210 deaths. 63.93% of its population has a complete vaccination schedule.


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