Morocco: Coronavirus fears spark surge in demand for nonperishable food

Morocco: Coronavirus fears spark surge in demand for nonperishable food

Though Moroccan authorities are assuring the public that there is no need to panic over the coronavirus pandemic and that the supply of goods is largely sufficient and covers up 6 to 8 months, shoppers continue to rush to supermarkets and convenience stores to buy nonperishable food, hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies…

Either in Casablanca, Rabat, Kenitra or Tangiers… consumers are stockpiling goods such as floor, rice, lentils, beans, pasta, UHT milk…while prices of disposable face-masks, anti-bacterial gels and wipes have soared, pushing the government to warn resellers and speculators seeking to make a quick buck.

Moroccan officials and traders ensure that there are no shortages of goods or food in local market, insisting that there is no immediate risk of food shortages across the North African Kingdom, and that the challenge remains right now demand spikes and shopping frenzy over fears of lockdown.

Several photos and videos shared on social media are showing long lines at check-out counters and empty shelves sending alarming signals to consumers in Morocco which has confirmed 29 coronavirus cases including one death and one recovery.

Relatedly, the government said it will crack down on any speculation attempt which may affect the supply of basic products.

Minister of Industry & Trade Moulay Hafid Elalamy said Sunday that his department and the Interior Ministry will closely follow the situation and take action when there is speculation.

“Now is not the time to speculate on prices,” he pointed out, adding that “there is no need to stock since all the products are available in large quantities”.


Morocco took a series of measures to limit the spread of the virus. In this connection, schools, universities and kindergartens have been closed but courses shifted online as a prevention measure to counter COVID-19 spreading.


The Moroccan authorities have banned all gatherings, prohibited religious events, suspended all international passenger air and maritime traffic and ordered cafés, restaurants, movie theatres, clubs of sports, hammams (public bath)… to close doors starting this Monday. Mosques in Morocco will also be closed for all prayer times, including the midday Friday prayers, until further notice.


Measures were also taken to safeguard commuters using buses, trams and cabs, through regular disinfection of vehicles and equipment, such as ticket machines, and limitation of number of passengers in cabs and buses.

The Ministry of Interior asked grand taxis to limit the number of passengers from the regular number of six to three. Trams and buses should not allow more passengers than vehicles’ capacity. The ministry asked citizens to use public transport only for emergencies.

Public transport workers will also issue awareness messages at stations to remind everyone to adhere to hygiene advices.

Besides transportation means, city cleaners have also started disinfecting public spaces across the country, including markets, and public administrations.
Several administrations and enterprises have allowed their staff to work from their homes to prevent the spread of the virus.

Abroad, most Moroccan embassies have set up monitoring and support units for the Moroccan community and opened hotlines for anyone needing assistance.

On Sunday, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI ordered the creation of a $1 billion fund to upgrade health infrastructure and help vulnerable economic sectors cope with coronavirus outbreak.

The fund will be used for the purchase of the necessary health equipment, assist affected sectors such as tourism, help maintain jobs and mitigate the pandemic’s social repercussions.

The global pandemic has taken a toll on Morocco’s tourism sector, a key source of hard currency flow for the country accounting for 10% of its gross domestic product.

Some private companies started thermal screening of employees and visitors, while members of Moroccan employers union (CGEM) are pooling efforts to weather the crisis.


Globally, the death toll increases by the hour reaching as of this Monday midday 6,529. The number of sickened people reached 171,909, while 77,781 have survived the virus including one in Morocco.

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