In response to the rising coronavirus cases in the UK, Morocco has implemented a ban on flights to and from the UK for an unspecified period of time.
The ban came into effect at 11:59pm on Wednesday (20 October) night, forcing airlines to cancel flights between the countries ahead of the suspension.
This is everything you need to know.
Why has Morocco banned UK flights?
Morocco has banned UK flights due to the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases breaking out across the UK.
The country’s national office of airports said that the new rule would remain in place “until further notice”.
According to the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Morocco’s weekly rate of reported Covid-19 cases on 14 October was at 10.4 per 100,000. By contrast, the UK’s rate is 445.5 per 100,000 people.
The Office for National Statistics has suggested that the rising infection levels are being driven, in part, by high positivity rates amongst school children.
Moroccan authorities informed UK airlines and holiday companies that flights will be suspended from 11:59pm on Wednesday (20 October) until further notice.
Flights between Morocco and Germany and the Netherlands have also been suspended.
Zina Bencheikh, managing director EMEA of Intrepid Travel, said: “This is disappointing for the travel industry but particularly devastating for local people in Morocco who rely on tourism for their livelihood.
“The UK and Germany are among the most important markets for Morocco. After 18 months with virtually no visitors, tourism was slowly beginning to rebound and this announcement will be yet another setback.”
What have airlines said?
On Wednesday, EasyJet said that it would continue to operate flights out of Morocco to bring passengers back to the UK before the ban comes into effect.
It said in a statement: “We are still awaiting clarity from the Moroccan authorities as to whether we are permitted to operate repatriation flights beyond midnight today.
“As a result of this decision, we will cancel our outbound flying from the UK, Germany and the Netherlands until 30 November.
“Pending guidance from the Moroccan government, we intend to fly inbound in the coming days to offer passengers repatriation flight options.”
British Airways cancelled flights between Heathrow and Marrakech, which were due to resume on Thursday after being suspended due to the pandemic.
Tui also confirmed that it had been contacted by the Moroccan government.
It said: “The Moroccan government has notified us of a change in regulation that affects flights from the UK to Morocco from 21 October.
“As a result, we have unfortunately had to cancel flights to Marrakech and Agadir up to and including 31 October 2021.
“We are contacting customers in departure date order to discuss their options, which include amending to another destination or a full refund.
“We would like to reassure customers currently on holiday that we are continuing to work closely with the Moroccan authorities to confirm their return flights and will continue to keep them updated.
“We would like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding during this time.”
Is there any way to still travel to Morocco?
While UK flights have been banned, UK passengers have not been banned entirely.
Travellers from the UK will still be permitted to enter Morocco by travelling via a third country.
In an update to its Foreign Travel Advice for Morocco, the Government said: “Travellers affected by flight cancellations should contact their airline or tour operator for advice on alternative routes via third countries (eg France, Spain) where flights are operating as normal.
“You will need to provide proof that you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the second dose administered at least two weeks prior to travel, or a negative PCR test result before boarding your flight or ferry to Morocco.
“The result must show that the PCR test itself was undertaken no more than 48 hours before boarding. For travel by ferry, you will also need to take a COVID-19 test during the journey. Children under the age of 11 years old are exempt from the PCR testing requirement for entry into Morocco.”
A message from the editor: Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.