Following strict border closures that left even citizens of its own country stranded, Morocco is reopening its borders to citizens of visa-exempt countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, and others. Travelers entering Morocco must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure and a letter of invitation from a Moroccan company or a confirmed hotel reservation.
The country’s national carrier Royal Air Maroc tweeted that travelers who meet the requirements can now access their flights to Morocco and noted that airspace restrictions in Morocco will end on Oct. 10, from which point flights will be regular. The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet issued a formal announcement, but the U.S. Embassy in Morocco has confirmed the new requirements. Travelers flying on Royal Air Maroc must wear face masks and abide by COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Emirates has announced that it will resume flights to Casablanca on Sept. 18 and is offering flexible booking options for travelers who purchase a flight by Sept. for travel through Nov. 30. The airline has declared it will cover COVID-19-related medical costs for passengers diagnosed with COVID-19 during their trip, provided their first flight is taken on or before Oct. 31.
Morocco abruptly shut its borders in March, denying entry even to its citizens. A strict lockdown was in place from March through late June. The easing up of restrictions saw a spike in cases this summer, which led King Mohammed VI to warn last month that the country could instate another lockdown, perhaps with even tighter restrictions. Morocco has recorded 92,016 coronavirus cases, with 72,968 recovered and 1,686 deaths.
The country remains under an extended state of emergency until Oct. 10. In Casablanca, there's currently a curfew in place from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., and local markets must close at 3 p.m. while cafes and shops must close at 8 p.m., and restaurants must close at 9 p.m. In the tourist hub of Marrakesh, there are fewer restrictions, but restaurants must close at 10 p.m.
With the lockdown and border closures, many hotels and riads temporarily shut their doors. According to Fabien Gastinel, general manager of the new Oberoi Marrakech, all of the city's luxury hotels closed, and so far, only one has reopened. "We are currently not open, but we are targeting Nov. 1 as our reopening date," Gastinel told TripSavvy, explaining that the exact reopening date will be decided soon. "And we are definitely looking forward to receiving our dearest guests and showcasing our legendary Oberoi service."
According to Reuters, the Moroccan economy is expected to contract by 5 percent this year. If things start to stabilize this fall, the tourism sector might see some gains soon. In Morocco, the fall and winter tend to bring mild temperatures and sunny days that draw tourists from Europe and the U.S. to enjoy cultural attractions like the museums, gardens, and souks of cities like Marrakesh, hiking and skiing in the Atlas Mountains, and excursions to the Sahara.
U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Morocco. "COVID-19 Information." Sept. 3, 2020