AP PHOTOS: Moroccans swim, sing, reconnect as lockdown lifts

Boys jump into a river to cool down after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco on Friday, June 26, 2020. Moroccans are re-experiencing a ta...
People wear face masks to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in the reopened Medina of Rabat after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Fri...
People walk past reopened shops in the Rabat Medina after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. With the exception o...
Brik Ait Qeddour poses for a photo at his reopened shop in the Medina of Rabat after lockdown measure were lifted, in Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. ...
Youths play basketball in a reopened court after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Thursday, June 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Women walk past a reopened hair salon in the Rabat Medina after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. Moroccans are ...
A man puts down his face mask to smoke a cigarette as he sits in a reopened coffeeshop after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Thursday...
Families spend time at a reopened park after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. In the capital Rabat, people welc...
Families gather at a beach after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Thursday, June 25, 2020. Moroccans are re-experiencing a taste of th...
Yasmin, left, applies makeup for her friend, Mariam, as they spend time outdoors for the first time since lockdown measures were lifted, in Rabat, Mor...
Young women pose for a portrait while spending time at a reopened beach after lockdown measures were lifted in Sale, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. I...
A family wears face masks to prevent the spread of Coronavirus while enjoying their time at a reopened beach in Sale, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. ...
People gather at a reopened beach on the first weekend after lockdown measures were lifted in Sale, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab ...
Youths play as the sun sets on a reopened beach after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elsham...
A family enjoys their time at a reopened beach after lockdown measures were lifted in Sale, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. Moroccans are re-experienc...
People gather at a reopened beach on the first weekend after lockdown measures were lifted in Sale, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. Moroccans are re-e...
Women watch as their kids swim at a reopened beach after lockdown measures were lifted in Sale, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elsh...
Boys wearing face masks to prevent the spread of Coronavirus pose for a portrait as they spend time at a reopened beach for the first time since lockd...
Boys play soccer as the sun sets on a reopened beach after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab E...
A man crosses by boat from Rabat to Sale after lockdown measures were lifted, in Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. Moroccans are re-experiencing a taste...

Boys jump into a river to cool down after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco on Friday, June 26, 2020. Moroccans are re-experiencing a ta...

People wear face masks to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in the reopened Medina of Rabat after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Fri...

People walk past reopened shops in the Rabat Medina after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. With the exception o...

Brik Ait Qeddour poses for a photo at his reopened shop in the Medina of Rabat after lockdown measure were lifted, in Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. ...

Youths play basketball in a reopened court after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Thursday, June 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

Women walk past a reopened hair salon in the Rabat Medina after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. Moroccans are ...

A man puts down his face mask to smoke a cigarette as he sits in a reopened coffeeshop after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Thursday...

Families spend time at a reopened park after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. In the capital Rabat, people welc...

Families gather at a beach after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Thursday, June 25, 2020. Moroccans are re-experiencing a taste of th...

Yasmin, left, applies makeup for her friend, Mariam, as they spend time outdoors for the first time since lockdown measures were lifted, in Rabat, Mor...

Young women pose for a portrait while spending time at a reopened beach after lockdown measures were lifted in Sale, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. I...

A family wears face masks to prevent the spread of Coronavirus while enjoying their time at a reopened beach in Sale, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. ...

People gather at a reopened beach on the first weekend after lockdown measures were lifted in Sale, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab ...

Youths play as the sun sets on a reopened beach after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elsham...

A family enjoys their time at a reopened beach after lockdown measures were lifted in Sale, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. Moroccans are re-experienc...

People gather at a reopened beach on the first weekend after lockdown measures were lifted in Sale, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. Moroccans are re-e...

Women watch as their kids swim at a reopened beach after lockdown measures were lifted in Sale, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elsh...

Boys wearing face masks to prevent the spread of Coronavirus pose for a portrait as they spend time at a reopened beach for the first time since lockd...

Boys play soccer as the sun sets on a reopened beach after lockdown measures were lifted in Rabat, Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab E...

A man crosses by boat from Rabat to Sale after lockdown measures were lifted, in Morocco, Friday, June 26, 2020. Moroccans are re-experiencing a taste...

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Moroccans are re-experiencing a taste of the life before. In newly opened public spaces, every sip of coffee in a cafe, every dip in a river with friends, every moment of outdoor intimacy is savored.

In the capital Rabat, people welcomed the end of more than three months of virus lockdown starting Thursday with the joy of a religious holiday. They met friends, planned days at the beach, and visited relatives.

The pandemic left its scars on Morocco's economy and Moroccans' well-being, however, that will take a long time to heal.

“Coronavirus is the least of my worries,” says Mohammed Tighiri, a waiter in the Best Coffee café in the city center, his mask resting on his chin. “If my boss isn’t able to pay his bills, I won’t be able to pay mine."

He paused to watch flower merchants across from his cafe, their voices louder than usual as they called on passersby to buy from their shops. None stopped.

One street away, Hakim Tazi sat on the small terrace of his Parisian-style Mazarine cafe, with COVID-19 awareness signs hanging on every glass window and wall. He greets regulars with a smile and compulsory hand-sanitizer, and sprays and scrubs alcohol on the tables and seats as he bids them goodbye.

“You can never be careful enough,” he said. “By protecting myself, I automatically protect my customers.”

In a hair salon concealed in the maze-like streets of Rabat's old town, barber Rabiee Serhane gives his childhood friend a haircut and opens up about the emotional disconnect and depression he suffered during lockdown.

“Sometimes I felt like I was unloved and alone in the world. I had dark thoughts that took me to really bad places mentally,” Serhane said.

His friend Youssef El Achiri comforts him and reminds him of his worth. “I’m here for you and you are here for me,” said El Achiri. They two act as each other’s therapist, in a country where mental health care is affordable only for the upper middle class.

In Rabat’s Kasbah of the Udayas, Fatima Ghalaf and her boyfriend hold hands and hug as they enjoy a panoramic view of the beach. “We spent three months of vigilance and fear over coronavirus, but it is time to have some fun again," she says, giggling.

In the neighboring city of Salé, teenagers and children gathered to cool off in the Bouregreg River.

With no social distancing or parental supervision, they splashed and dipped in the cold water, wrapped arms around each other's shoulders and sang songs in celebration of their newly found freedom.

For 7-year-old Ayoub Fares, freedom means rolling down a hill of greenery over and over. “I am very happy,” he said timidly, basking in the sun with his family.

His mother Najat Abdelati fears that her only child will be scarred by the loneliness and isolation from other children. “Sometimes out of nowhere he screams ‘I hate you,’ and starts pulling his hair.”

“I don’t know how to help him adjust when I don’t know how to adjust myself,” she says.

Morocco has so far recorded nearly 11,900 coronavirus infections and 220 deaths, and hasn't yet announced when it will reopen to international travel.

The Rabat Kasbah would normally be bursting with tourists and Moroccans who live in Europe and return home for summer visits. Now, merchants sit and chat with each other, with no customers in sight.

Brik Ait Qeddour, who has been making and selling traditional leather shoes and slippers for over 40 years, said that as long as borders remain closed, “All we can do is sit in front of our shops and wipe the dust."

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