Morocco lifts flight ban, but visitors need third Covid vaccine shot

Morocco lifts flight ban, but visitors need third Covid vaccine shot
Morocco will end a two-month flight ban on 7 February - but with strict conditions for passengers, including a Covid booster jab.
3 min read
03 February, 2022
Morocco closed borders in November last year amid the emergence of the Omicron variant [Getty]

Morocco announced on Tuesday new rules for residents and tourists arriving from abroad, after a two-month ban on passenger flights into the kingdom due to the spread of Covid-19.

The new measures are to be implemented on 7 February as Morocco continues to "manage... a public health emergency", the government said in a statement. 

The measures require travellers arriving in Morocco to present a vaccination pass and a negative PCR test taken less than 48 hours before boarding the plane. Passengers will also undergo rapid tests upon arrival at Morocco’s airports. 

The government statement did not specify if the required full vaccination status includes the third jab.

However, a member of the governmental committee in charge of pandemic-related recommendations told The New Arab that travellers who got the second shot more than four months before their scheduled flight must present proof of a booster shot.

“For those who got Covid after their second shot, so they weren't able to get their third jab at the time, they will be required to present a certificate that proves their situation,” Said Afif told The New Arab.

The booster shot requirement frustrated many Moroccans and foreigners, who had hoped that the decision to open borders would bring an end to their travel limbo.

“We were happy that we will be finally able to go back to Morocco to take care of our business, but with the new restrictions, I and my husband will not be able to do that," Julien, a French woman running a tourism business in Morocco told The New Arab.

"We just got our second shot, and now we need to wait four more months. Morocco's borders might be closed again by then."

Najlae, a Moroccan student living in France, has not yet had the booster shot.

“I cannot see my family because my country has another absurd requirement,” she told The New Arab.

Morocco closed its borders at the end of November last year, when the highly contagious Covid-19 variant Omicron emerged.

The decision left many Moroccan and foreign residents stranded abroad, away from their jobs and families. A few exceptional flights from Turkey, Portugal, and the UAE brought some of them home.

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Morocco mandated the vaccine pass in public and private places in October last year.

The government called on citizens in December to get their booster shots four months after their second jab, so that a “new, valid vaccine pass” could be issued.

The health ministry launched a mobile phone application to enable security guards and authorities in public and private places to check the validity of citizens’ vaccine passes.

Despite the mandate, only 12 percent of the population has received a booster jab. Just under 63 percent of Moroccans have had two vaccine doses.

The health ministry, which aims to reach a vaccination rate of 80 percent to achieve herd immunity, has blamed false information spread through social media for Moroccans’ reluctance to get vaccinated.