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Morocco closes all mosques, cafes and restaurants

The Moroccan authorities have announced the closure “until further notice” of cafes, restaurants, theaters and cinemas, as well as mosques.

These provisions, which entered into force on March 16, 2020 at 6 p.m. (5 p.m. GMT), also apply to “sports halls, hammams, games rooms and nearby grounds”, said the Interior Ministry in a statement. They don't “do not concern the souks, shops and premises for the sale of products and essentials as well as restaurants that deliver to your home”.

The Superior Council of Ulemas, an official institution responsible for supporting the Muslim religious policy of the kingdom, for its part issued a fatwa (religious opinion) for the closure of mosques for the “five daily prayers and one for Friday”, from March 16.

Prayers will resume “as soon as the competent authorities have decided that the health situation is normalized”, added the Council in a press release. Authorities have also announced public transport restrictions and disinfection “several times a day”.

Morocco suspended all international flights on March 15 “until further notice”, but special planes have been authorized to repatriate European tourists stranded in the kingdom.

Many tourists are still stranded in this country, which welcomed 13 million visitors in 2019. “The French are leaving, but there are still the Americans and the English, among others”, A tourism official in Marrakech, the kingdom's flagship destination, told AFP.

While Europe has become the epicenter of the pandemic, Morocco remains relatively spared even if, according to a new official assessment, the detected cases tripled in three days, increasing to 37 on March 17, including one death.

The impact on tourism, a vital sector, is starting to make itself felt, especially in Marrakech: “Nightlife, which represents three quarters of the turnover linked to tourism in Marrakech, has been stopped since Friday (March 13)”, said the head of tourism interviewed by AFP.

Schools and universities have been closed, all cultural and sporting events have been canceled and public gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited.

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