According to the Wali (Governor) of Fez, barmaids are now prohibited from serving in bars. Reaction from industry professionals to this strange decision, has been swift and fierce. They were quick to denounce the decision, which they say damages the financial health of their institutions. Others point to the fact that this amounts to unlawful sex discrimination
The decision by the Wali, Mohammed Rharrabi, has also come under fire from tourism professionals who also say that it will be detrimental to the Industry. The National Hotel Industry Federation joined in the condemnation, denouncing the Wali's intervention, saying it will damage tourism.
This decision could aggravate the crisis situation faced by industry professionals. According to Assabah newspaper, traders operating in the city of Fez are to challenge this order which in addition to prohibiting bartenders in some establishments serving alcohol, has changed the opening hours for pubs and bars in ways that risk lower sales.
If this decision causes uproar among tourism professionals in Fes, it's because they rely heavily on longer opening hours, following the transition to summer time, to attract more customers and offset the losses incurred during the month of Ramadan. One major French businessman in Fez, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the barmaid ban as "barmy, une idée folle."
According to another industry source, the Wali's order is now the subject of several meetings of tourism stakeholders in Morocco. The same source pointed out that the decision prohibiting barmaids in establishments serving alcohol simply pushes managers to dismiss or even to assign them to another function that may not be in their skill set.
Tourism Minister Lahcen Haddad, for its part, denounced the discrimination of customers by some industry players but said he was not aware of the new measures decreed by the Wali.
The problem for barmaids is, sadly, not confined to Fez. In Casablanca they are now required to have a special license, a document that is not required for a male bartender. This discrimination against women forced, because of their economic conditions, to work in a bar, has, as in Fez, been condemned.
Kacem Jdouri Jilali, President of the Association of Liquor Sellers proposes that, in the name of equality, barmaids are subject to the same working conditions as their male colleagues.
These moves may well be part of a nationwide strategy, as the Wali of Casablanca has also set new opening hours for liquor shops, bars, pubs and nightclubs.
The information originally published in the daily L'Economiste has caused consternation in professional circles. Citing a decision of the Wali of Casablanca, which repeals the opening hours legislation of1978, the newspaper reports that grocery stores and supermarkets can sell alcohol between 11am and 7pm. Bars not attached to a hotel can open from 11am an hours to 11pm, and the hotels bars 11am to midnightRestaurants without floor shows can serve alcohol from 11 am to 1 am, while restaurants with entertainment can serve alcohol until 3am. Cabarets and night clubs themselves are allowed to serve alcoholic beverages to 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 am.
|Changed opening hours for liquor sales|
Liquor traders also want to be able to automatically add one more hour after the switch to daylight saving time rather than obtaining a special permission, something that often take several weeks. This procedure paved the way for inexplicable decisions. Some shopkeepers or bar owners were given favourable treatment, while others found themselves refused.
Kacem Jdouri Jilali, says the treatment of retailers by authorities illustrates the hypocrisy surrounding the wine trade in Morocco. He points out that everyone knows that the handful of non-Muslim customers residing in Morocco can not absorb the domestic production of alcoholic beverages, estimated at several tens of millions of litres. Therefore, he says, this trade must be demystified and a stop put to the witch hunt whenever disturbances to public order are caused by a consumer having bent the elbow a little too much.
Unfortunately, that sounds too much like common sense.