In Photos: Rabat’s essential workers during COVID-19 lockdown

This article was originally published on Morocco World News, on June 17, 2020.

Morocco spotlighted those it appraised as essential workers for their efforts under three months of strict quarantine measures as the country took prudent precautions to curb the spread of COVID-19.

On March 19, Morocco announced a state of emergency. Ensuing legislation limited movement by enforcing a firm 6:00 p.m. curfew and requiring residents to obtain government authorization to break stay-at-home orders. Local law enforcementpatrolled the streets and promised hefty fines and arrests to those willing to violate the confinement measures. 

In Rabat, not unlike other parts of the country, the once-bustling city center, markets, and boulevards turned eerily quiet with military tanks and checkpoints dotting otherwise vacant streets. 

While the restrictions weighed heavily on Morocco’s population and wore the economy thin, many have praised the country for its proactive and controlled response to the pandemic, saying it has prevented scores of infections and deaths from the novel coronavirus. 

Under the special circumstances, a number of workers were permitted to work from home—Parliament members, schools, and even museums endeavored new virtual approaches to their activities. 

Others received special permissions to go about their daily work lives and operate grocery stores, banks, trams, and necessary office centers to mitigate the negative impacts of the lockdown and keep hardships at bay.

A more visible set of workers received permission to maintain business activities and leave home as well. Despite the inherent risks associated with their daily interactions during the peak of the crisis, these essential workers emphasized a desire to uphold their businesses and serve their communities with what was necessary to endure months of overall isolation. 

There are the workers operating small shops, law enforcement officers, street cleaners, butchers and bakers, workers delivering propane tanks, fishermen, guards, and construction workers, to name a few.

“I have sold fruits and vegetables here for many years,” said Boujamaa, a produce stand owner in Rabat. “It is my responsibility to preserve the country and its citizens by staying open.” 

Other small shop owners echoed Boujamaa’s words, emphasizing their role in “helping the country” and maintaining aspects of day-to-day life while following government orders to stay safe.

After extending the lockdown twice, Morocco eased restrictions on June 10. It remains under partially eased state of emergency measures. The workers once deemed most essential are now in the company of others who have opened up to the public under mandated safety regulations such as temperature checks, sanitation stations, and the use of face masks.

Boujamaa has worked in his produce stand for many years. “It is my responsibility to preserve the country and its citizens by staying open,” he said. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
Ali Lmourid poses inside his “hanout.” Hanouts are small shops that measure somewhere between a convenience store and a kiosk. Marking most street corners, hanouts are vital to the everyday consumer needs of people in Morocco. Lmourid stressed his role in assisting his community and country by providing the essentials through his business during lockdown in Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
Hamada, a young police officer, stands at a police checkpoint to evaluate government authorization papers of people passing in cars. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
A young man sells dates, spices, and other food items in one of the few shops that remained open in Rabat’s medina. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
Street cleaners wearing neon orange and green vests sanitize Avenue Mohammed V. Rabat, Morocco, April 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
Two men set up their butcher stand on a Sunday morning. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
Fatima sells typical Moroccan baked good staples at her tiny stand. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
A construction worker looks up while breaking ground for a developing recreational center. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
In Photos: Rabat’s Essential Workers During COVID-19 Lockdown
A man delivering butane tanks is pictured in front of a small shop alongside a man delivering bread. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
In Photos: Rabat’s Essential Workers During COVID-19 Lockdown
Two men work to regulate the water spouting from Rabat’s centerpiece fountain. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
Military tanks made frequent appearances around Rabat throughout the lockdown to emphasize control and a demand for people to abide by state of emergency restrictions and the enacted curfew. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
In Photos: Rabat’s Essential Workers During COVID-19 Lockdown
Fishermen were made to adapt to health and safety measures on their boats and while handling fish to be sold to markets during the lockdown in Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
In Photos: Rabat’s Essential Workers During COVID-19 Lockdown
A man delivers bread on his bicycle cart to local shops during the lockdown in Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
In Photos: Rabat’s Essential Workers During COVID-19 Lockdown
Two men working on a garbage truck circle the city in masks before the enforced curfew. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
A security guard on horseback maintains his duties in front of Mausoleum of Mohammed V. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
In Photos: Rabat’s Essential Workers During COVID-19 Lockdown
A street cleaner stands with his broom in Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
In Photos: Rabat’s Essential Workers During COVID-19 Lockdown
Following a day of essential office work, a man is permitted to feed the pigeons before returning home. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News
In Photos: Rabat’s Essential Workers During COVID-19 Lockdown

A man waters the grass planted in a median between two sides of the road. Rabat, Morocco, May 2020. Photo: Kristen Gianaris/Morocco World News

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