Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Fez Souk Closing Time Now 1PM -

The new souk closing time of 1PM has had the unintended consequence of causing more people to crowd into the streets in a shorter space of time.

Food prices are up but good fresh food is plentiful

On the plus side, the rule about only one person per household being allowed to leave the house has kept numbers of shoppers down. Though it is difficult to maintain a one metre distance from others in the souk, a majority of people appreciate the health reasons and are careful to avoid physical contact.

Food prices in the souks have been on the rise which is becoming a problem for those who are now out of work. Morocco’s Inter-ministerial Committee in Charge of Monitoring Supply, Prices, and Quality detected 768 infringements in terms of the prices and quality of food products between March 1 and March 29.

The committee monitored the prices and quality of products at 30,000 wholesale and retail outlets and storage warehouses across the country, according to a statement issued on March 30.

The violations include 519 for failing to display prices, 146 for not presenting invoices, 41 for not respecting quality and hygiene standards, 49 for illegal increase in the regulated prices, three for clandestine storage, and 10 other miscellaneous violations.

Small stores may remain open until 6pm

While the food souks in Fez are closed from 1PM it is understood that small shops selling basic things such as bread, shampoo and so on, will remain open until 6pm.

The presence of soldiers and police (all wearing masks) has helped people to realise the severity of the health problem. In addition, television and radio are constantly broadcasting the latest advice and information.


Morocco Launches Aid Registration for Informal Workers

Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior is implementing a registration process for informal workers who are unable to work because of the lockdown laws.

Moroccan workers in the informal sector have been asked tp send their registration number under the National Medical Assistance Program (RAMED) to the toll-free number 1212.

Workers can also call the 1212 telephone number to request more information and assistance, or to file complaints.

On March 27, the Economic Monitoring Committee (CVE) announced the allocation of a monthly stipend for the workers who were forced to suspend their income-generating activities due to the national lockdown.

Workers in households of two people or less will receive MAD 800 ($80) monthly. Households of three to four people will receive MAD 1,000 ($100). Households of more than four members will benefit from MAD 1,200 ($120).

The distribution of financial assistance is set to begin on April 6 and citizens must complete the registration process online.

While the newly announced method only concerns workers who are already registered under the RAMED, the government stressed that all informal workers who can prove the suspension of their activity is due to the lockdown are eligible for financial aid.

However, authorities have not yet explained specifics how citizens can receive the stipend if they do not have a RAMED registration number.

Earlier this month, the CVE announced a similar measure for workers in the formal sector who are registered under the National Social Security Fund (CNSS).

This category of workers and employees will receive MAD 2,000 ($200) monthly, in addition to family allowances and medical coverage.


Morocco - Corona virus update - March 31

Tangier: Local markets will close at 2 p.m.

In order to avoid congestion and large agglomerations of people favourable to the transmission of Coronavirus, the authorities of the city of Tangier have just announced the reduction of the opening hours of the nearby fruit and vegetable souks and the fish market . They will now have to close their doors at 2:00 p.m. Fruit and vegetable stores which may continue to serve the public as before until 6:00 p.m. are excluded from this constraint. Note that barriers are installed inside these markets to control inflows and avoid crowds.

In Fez the souk closing time is 1pm. Some Fez Medina residents have pointed out that an early souk closing might prove counterproductive as it will encourage more people to be in the streets at the same time, rather than spread out over the day.

While some small shops may remain open after 1 pm, all are expected to close by 6pm.


Monday, March 30, 2020

Corona Virus in Morocco - Update March 30th

Morocco’s Ministry of Health has confirmed 18 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 534 as of 6 p.m. on March 30.


Possible Heavy Rain in Morocco

The National Metrology Directorate have forecast heavy rainfall in several provinces from Monday evening, March 30 and Tuesday, March 31.

Heavy rainfall of 40 to 70 millilitres will hit the provinces of Chefchaouen, Fah-Anjra, Larach, Tangier, Asilah and Tetouan, in northern Morocco. Localised, moderate rains are expected in the provinces of Kenitra and M’Diq-Fnideq, and in Ouezzane and Taounate, a statement from the DMN said.

Gusts of wind ranging from 60 to 70 kilometres per hour are expected in Tangier, the Rif, the plains north of Essaouira, the southeastern slopes, and in the High and the Middle Atlas.


Why are Coronavirus numbers so high in Meknes?

While the Moroccan health authorities daily reporting of infections across the country, they have caused some confusion by reporting on regions rather than individual cities. The figures for Fes/Meknes are third highest in the country after Casablanca and Marrakech, yet digging down into the numbers reveals that Fez has a much lower number than Meknes.

The answer lies in the fact that fifteen people who visited Egypt in March tested positive for the virus. According to the city’s mayor, the 15 people were part of a group of men and women who went on an organised trip between February 25 and March 10.

The Mayor of Meknes, Abdellah Banou, said that "20 of them are currently at the Sidi Said Hospital while four others are at the Military Hospital".

The 15 confirmed cases have all been to Egypt in an organised trip, the Mayor said, adding that one of them had died. After the health authorities confirmed the first infection, the other travellers who were part of the same group were identified and advised to self-isolate and call the authorities once noticing coronavirus symptoms.

Benaissa Benshan, head of the Ismaili Association of Retired teachers in Meknes, who organised the trip during the period between February 25 to March 10, said that 58 people took part to that trip, including him and another official from the association.

"About an hour before our flight landed at the Casablanca airport, they handed us papers, to answer questions about whether we had visited China. And when we arrived at the airport we were not subjected to any examination", Benaissa Benshan said.

The Meknes-based man said that three days after returning to Meknes, a 40-year-old woman started showing symptoms and when her husband called the competent authorities, they told him that Egypt is not considered as an epicentre for the virus. "Things got worse and her condition deteriorated, and she was taken to the military hospital after her infection got confirmed," he added.

The president of the association explained that the health authorities asked the rest of the group to buy thermometers, check their body temperature daily and call if there is something abnormal.

It was confirmed that 16 people had the virus, two are from Fez, and 14 others from Meknes, one of them died last night», meaning after the confirmed cases and deaths were announced yesterday by the health ministry.

The combined figures for Fez/Meknes are now at 88 with the majority being in Meknes. At present there is no definitive number for Fez but it is believed to be 20 or less.


Fez Medina Becomes a Ghost Town as Morocco Passes 500 Infections

Morocco records 37 new COVID-19 cases for total of 516, with nearly 2,000 people in Morocco with suspected cases testing negative for the virus.

The message about self isolation and social distancing appears to have taken hold. The streets are virtually empty and most shops closed.  Walking through Fez is an eerie experience with virtually nobody on the street and an overall sense of tranquility and silence. People are taking care to avoid direct contact with each other.

There are some exceptions. The famous tannery is still being worked by some tanners keen not to let their stack of animal hides to go to rot and go to waste. And there are still young people who don't appear concerned by the instructions to stay at home.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office has suggested the possibility of delivering harsher penalties for violations of the state of emergency if they include acts stipulated in the Criminal Code

Sefarine square is empty

Meanwhile, in Marrakech there are still a lot of people on the streets

The Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech
Place Jemaa El Fna, Marrakech
Meanwhile, in Casablanca....