There are many people from Ceuta who went out to see their relatives in Morocco. «I am going to see my mother in Castillejos, I haven’t been with her for two years. This afternoon I return to work », he affirmed at the border Sined Chairi, who had dressed for the occasion with her pink lipstick matching her jacket to go visit her family after so long. However, that joy did not occur the other way around. From Morocco, families did not enter Ceuta to visit their loved ones. The measures against the coronavirus are hindering the flow of people to Spain, which is already hampered by the lack of cross-border workers and by the prohibition on the transit of goods.
3,300 people in Tetouan
The numbers sing. According to the National Police Headquarters, in the first 24 hours of opening, they passed from Ceuta to the province of Tetuán. 3,300 people. At the same time, a volume of 900 cars. Figures that are reduced by half in transit from Morocco to Spain. Many people from Ceuta crossed to visit their family, others went on to renew their ‘green card’, there were those who went to see the house they own in Morocco or those who did it just out of curiosity. “I have been told that you have to be vaccinated or with a 48-hour PCR, ”said Almudena González upon returning without being able to go to Castillejos.
The figures are different at the border of Beni Enzar in Melilla. According to the count of the Government Delegation they crossed in the first 24 hours of opening 1,584 people to Nador, with a flow of 404 vehicles. In the opposite direction, 1,449 people entered Spain from Morocco with a volume of 595 vehicles. There is a desire to leave, to return to Morocco, to normal life on both sides of the fence. The restrictions on passage do not affect the people of Ceuta and they want to return to their loved ones. «I do not know exact data, but more influx to vaccination is being noticed. They can’t go through and now everyone wants to have the full guideline,” says a woman near the health center in Ceuta.
The Ministry of Health itself has reported that, “due to the high demand for vaccination registered by the health requirements for access to Morocco”, it is recommended that people who go to get vaccinated at the Military Hospital request an appointment. The same has happened in Melilla, where they attended on Monday 475 people to be vaccinated after reopening the border. In fact, the Ministry of Health affirmed yesterday that it is considering opening new vaccination points due to the high demand to be able to cross into Morocco.
The history it gets even more complicated when entering Spain. The Ministry of Health ensures in an order prior to the opening of the border that vaccination certificates issued in Morocco from 14 days after the date of administration of the last dose of the complete guideline are accepted as valid. That is if no more than 270 days have elapsed since the date of administration of the last dose.
In the case of not having this document, a negative diagnostic test is sufficient, as in any other border. “The problem is that the people there are very poor And not everyone gets vaccinated. A family, to pay for the PCR of several members, needs money that it does not have, “says the owner of a cafeteria in Ceuta, who says that single people are passing by to see the family and that’s it, that not all the members. What is expected is that, by Friday, after the noon prayer, many will leave for the weekend. “Until Sunday, on Monday we have to be here to work,” said Hussain.
In this sense, the numbers also sing. On the first day of opening of the border, the National Police records that 1,600 people have passed to Spain with about 500 vehicles. Many of whom have done it to be able to pass the ITV, since they were locked up in Morocco and they have not been able to take them to Spain in the two and a half years of closure. Flow in both directions that has been thoroughly scrutinized by the authorities. As a result of this exhaustive surveillance, four people have already been arrested with legal claims.
Doubts with the procedures
The passage of people is constant, but the activity back to normality more similar to what was remembered before the pandemic will be on May 31. It is at this time that cross-border workers are expected to return to Ceuta companies. Until now, it is not very clear what procedures they must pass. And that’s the complaint. Less than two weeks before being able to return to work, no one gives information about the requirements. There has been talk of a specific visa for Ceuta and Melilla, but nothing is official. Only in Ceuta there 4,000 Moroccans waiting to go back to work and no one on both sides of the border says what they need to get in.
An uncertainty that joins that of commercial customs, which everyone asks to start the transit of goods. It is clear that portage is ruled out and that everything that enters one country and another will be declared. No shadow economy. But the own John Jesus Alive, president of Ceuta, said in the debate on the status of the autonomous city that “this customs office can be established in many ways and time will tell, but it must be legally recognized as such and with the appropriate means.” In Melilla, the agreement has existed for decades and it only needs to be recovered, after Morocco unilaterally suspended it in 2018.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism