Sixteen Moroccan companies export face masks to Europe
Sixteen Moroccan companies export face masks to Europe as coronavirus lockdown eases
Moroccan companies are providing face masks to countries in Europe, as Covid-19 lockdown eases in some countries
A growing number of Moroccan companies are providing European countries with protective equipment, as many are easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions and people are returning to work.
A total of 16 companies are exporting reusable protective equipment to Spain, France, Italy and Germany.
Morocco has 73 units and cooperatives that manufacture washable, reusable masks.
The Moroccan Ministry of Industry told Spanish news agency EFE that the export of masks has slowly grown since 10 May and may continue to do so in the coming weeks.
The North African country has approximately 40 textile factories that produce 10 million masks, and Morocco has given permission to textile companies to export half of the locally produced masks if national demand is met.
Morocco’s Minister of Trade Moulay Hafid Elalamy said that allowing textile companies to continue work allows for both an increase in the production of protective equipment, and keeps businesses open during the Covid-19 crisis, supporting the economy.
In Morocco, citizens have been ordered to wear face masks in public, with those who refuse to follow the directive risking prison sentences of between one and three months.
Prisons have also been utilised in the production of face masks, and the General Commission for Prison and Reintegration Administration (DGAPR) on 19 May announced the launch of a national project where prisoners help make protective equipment.
One hundred prisoners in 21 prison institutions across Morocco have been producing 20,000 face masks per day since 5 May.
Coronavirus prison outbreak
However, last month Morocco's prison authorities confirmed a worrying spread of the novel coronavirus inside several detention facilities, the worst outbreak occurring among prisoners and staff in Ouarzazate, where at least 270 tested positive.
The General Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation said that 207 prisoners and 62 staff in the facility in southern Morocco had tested positive for the virus, while another 55 inmates were waiting for the results of their tests.
Two staff members at Salé prison on the outskirts of the capital Rabat had tested positive for the virus, as well as single cases in facilities in Oujda and Tetouan.
Across Morocco's prisons, restrictions have tightened in order to prevent the spread of the virus, with visitors reduced to one every 15 days.
Earlier this month, Morocco's King Mohammed VI pardoned 5,654 prisoners deemed the most vulnerable to the virus.
Those released were selected using a criteria of age, health conditions, time spent in prison and good behaviour, the justice ministry said.