Morocco cancels maritime line to Portimao due to increase of coronavirus cases in Portugal

The Portuguese country has experienced an increase in infections due to the Delta variant
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Days after Rabat announced a new maritime route with the Portuguese city of Portimao, the Moroccan government has decided to cancel it due to the resurgence of cases of COVID-19 due to the Delta strain of the virus, first detected in India. This new variant is considered particularly contagious, so the Ministry of Health has decided to suspend travel with Portugal.

This maritime route would have served as an alternative to Morocco's existing routes to Spanish ports, which it has also decided to suspend due to the health situation. However, the current diplomatic crisis between Rabat and Madrid could be the real reason why the Alaouite government opted to eliminate the Spanish routes, the so-called Operation Crossing the Strait.

However, the route with Portugal could be postponed if the health situation improves or if a stricter health protocol is put in place. "We are still talking. There is interest from the Moroccan government and there is interest from us," declared Pedro Siza Vieira, the Portuguese economy minister. However, as the Moroccan media Le 360 points out, the two governments have not yet reached an agreement. "We are seeing how we can prepare the conditions for reception, and above all for departure, because it is very important for both goods and people," Vieira added. Lisbon hopes that in time this route can be put into operation in order to alleviate the effects of countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany including Portugal on the red list of destinations due to the coronavirus. The Algarve, the region where Portimao is located, is one of the country's main international tourist attractions.

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PHOTO/AFP - Terminal I of the port of Tanger Med in the city of Tangier

Portugal had also recently lowered the price of motorway tolls, including the one linking the Algarve to the Spanish town of Ayamonte. In this way, citizens living in Spain who wish to travel to Morocco will be able to do so more affordably.

The health situation in Morocco is, in the words of Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani, "worrying" despite the vaccination process. In the last two weeks, infections have doubled to 533,945 cases. Moreover, 9,315 deaths have been reported as a result of the virus. Morocco has been one of the African countries that has best managed the health crisis due to the pandemic. It is also successfully carrying out the vaccination process. 10,028,791 Moroccan citizens have received at least one dose of the drug, while 9,140,785 people have received both doses. El Othmani called on the institutions and the population to maintain security measures, respecting the rules imposed by the government.

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AFP/FADEL SENNA - Moroccans wearing masks in Rabat

Rabat has not announced any changes to the other routes connecting Morocco with French and Italian cities.