Ferry brings Europeans trapped in Morocco during lockdown into Malaga port

One of the vehicles is directed off the ferry in Malaga port.
One of the vehicles is directed off the ferry in Malaga port. / MIGUE FERNÁNDEZ
  • The Bahama Mama made the first of at least eight repatriation trips from Tangier on Thursday, carrying mainly British and German tourists who were travelling in their own vehicles

When Morocco closed its frontiers with Spain to curb the spread of coronavirus on 13 March, it left around 20,000 Europeans trapped in the country.

Those considered to be in a vulnerable situation were repatriated on special flights, but thousands more were left behind, many of them travelling in their own cars or motor homes.

They have now started to be brought back into Europe on the Bahama Mama, a ferry laid on by the company Baleària in collaboration with several governments, including Spain's.

The Bahama Mama, in Malaga.

The Bahama Mama, in Malaga. / M. FERNÁNDEZ

On Thursday it made the first of at least eight trips scheduled between now and the beginning of June between Tangier and Malaga to bring the travellers home.

Its passengers were mainly tourists who have spent the last two months of lockdown in their Moroccan holiday homes, in rented accommodation or in their own mobile homes.

The ferry docked at around 8pm, carrying 383 passengers, the majority of them British and German, and 183 vehicles, according to information provided by the port. After disembarking in their vehicles, the passengers made their own way to where they had arranged to spend the night, before continuing on their journey.

Temperature checks

First, however, the passengers had to pass through a special health checkpoint in the port terminal. Their body temperatures were taken for the second time that day, the first check being before they left Morocco.

It is estimated that there are still around 18,000 people in Morocco who have asked to leave Tangier via Malaga. So far eight trips have been scheduled but more have not been ruled out.

The ferry was due to arrive in Malaga on Friday on its second trip, this time carrying mainly Spanish passengers.

The operator of Malaga port terminal, Eurogate, has established distancing measures inside the building as well as a disinfecting operation before and after the arrival of passengers. There is also a plan of action coordinated with the health ministry for any suspected Covid cases.