Morocco to start reopening borders after strict lockdown

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A Moroccan policeman stands guard in a closed street on June 8, 2020 after Moroccan authorities declared a total lockdown following the discovery of many Covid-19 cases in a fish canning factory in the southern port city of Safi. (AFP)
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A man stands in a closed street on June 8, 2020 after Moroccan authorities declared a total lockdown following the discovery of many Covid-19 cases in a fish canning factory in the southern port city of Safi. (AFP)
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Updated 09 July 2020

Morocco to start reopening borders after strict lockdown

  • Only Moroccan citizens and expats living in Morocco will be allowed to travel in the first stage of the reopening starting July 14

RABAT: Morocco will start gradually reopening its air and maritime borders next week after one of the world’s strictest border lockdowns, which trapped tourists inside the country and left thousands of Moroccans stranded abroad and unable to come home.
Only Moroccan citizens and expatriates living in Morocco will be allowed to travel in the first stage of the reopening starting July 14, according to a government statement Thursday.
National airlines will schedule as many flights as necessary to return Moroccans living abroad as well as foreigners living in Morocco. Passengers are required to present both a PCR virus test taken within fewer than 48 hours of the flight, as well as an antibody test, before boarding planes heading for Morocco.
Ferries from the French port Sete and Italian port Genoa will be allowed to resume serving Moroccan ports. All other ports will be excluded from this operation for now.
Moroccan citizens and foreign residents will be able to leave Morocco by air and sea.
Morocco abruptly suspended all international passenger flights and passenger ships to and from its territory on March 15. Tourists scrambled to get out — and Moroccans abroad struggled to come home.
While other countries also closed borders to keep out the virus, Morocco went even farther, barring its own citizens from coming home in hopes of limiting the risk of coronavirus arriving on Moroccan soil and overwhelming its under-prepared hospitals.
Under pressure from thousands of stranded Moroccans, the government started gradually letting some back in in recent weeks.
Morocco will start opening mosques next week, too, though weekly Friday prayers will remain banned.
When mosques reopen starting July 15, Morocco’s religious authority called on the faithful to wear masks, use personal prayer mats and uphold social distancing during prayers and outside mosques.
Morocco hasn’t announced when churches and synagogues will open.
Morocco has so far recorded more than 14,000 coronavirus cases, and outbreaks within families and factories have complicated efforts to limit the spread.
Local authorities in the coastal city of Safi were forced to put their city back on lockdown earlier this week, forcing more than 308,000 citizens to stay home, after an outbreak in a fish conservation factory. Outbreaks also occurred in a Renault factory in Tangier and in a strawberry plant in Kenitra, where 457 strawberry pickers and workers were affected.


Turkey irked over joint declaration by Cyprus, Greece and Egypt

Updated 23 October 2020

Turkey irked over joint declaration by Cyprus, Greece and Egypt

  • The joint statement also asked Turkey to accept Cyprus’ invitation to enter negotiations for an agreement on maritime delimitations

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed a joint statement by Greece, Cyprus and Egypt that condemns Turkish energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and numerous “provocations” that they maintain are threatening regional peace.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “fully rejected the declaration containing baseless accusations and allegations.”
During a trilateral regional summit on Wednesday in Nicosia, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged Ankara to end its “aggressive” actions.
The joint statement also asked Turkey to accept Cyprus’ invitation to enter negotiations for an agreement on maritime delimitations. Greece and Cyprus have signed maritime border agreements with Egypt while dismissing a similar deal that Ankara signed with Libya’s Tripoli-based government as “legally invalid.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the declaration attacked Ankara rather than supporting peace and stability in the region. It repeated Turkey’s position that cooperation could only take place with the inclusion of Turkish Cypriots in governing and sharing the resources of the ethnically divided island nation.
“We will continue with determination to protect our rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean,” the ministry statement said.
The trilateral summit took place amid high tensions between nominal NATO allies Greece and Turkey over maritime borders and energy rights.
In late summer, Turkey dispatched a research vessel escorted by warships to conduct seismic research in a part of the Mediterranean Sea that Greece claims as its territory, which prompted the Greek government to deploy its own warships.
Turkey pulled the research ship back to shore for several weeks for maintenance and to allow time for diplomacy but redeployed the Oruc Reis on a new energy exploration mission. A maritime announcement by Turkey says the Oruc Reis and two other ships would continue working in the area until Oct. 27.
Turkey also has had ships prospecting for oil and gas reserves in waters that Cyprus claims as its exclusive economic zone.