Following the nationwide confinement measure announced by the Mauritian Prime Minister and effective since 6am on 20 March 2020 for a duration of two weeks in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the following measures have been adopted:
1. Regulations issued by the Minister of Health and Wellness
The Minister of Health and Wellness (the “Minister”) has issued the Prevention and Mitigation of Infectious Disease (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (the “Regulations”) under the Public Health Act, providing for the isolation and screening of people infected with the Coronavirus and the placement in quarantine of people suspected to be infected.
Compliance with the measures under the Regulations is to be enforced by the police who can additionally board any ship or aircraft and enter any premises without a warrant for the purposes of enforcing compliance with the Regulations.
2. Curfew order
Acting under Regulation 14, the minister has issued a curfew order, directing that no person may remain outdoors in Mauritius from 23 March 2020 at 8pm to 2 April 2020 at 8pm.
The only two possible derogations from the curfew order are where:
- a person is outdoors to avail himself or herself of medical treatment, essential supplies, foodstuff, medicine or any other item essential for his subsistence of livelihood;
- the Commissioner of Police issues a work access permit to that person to attend work, where such person is involved in the provision of strictly essential minimum services.
Breach of the Regulations or of the curfew order amount to an offence which is punishable by a fine not exceeding MUR500 and imprisonment not exceeding six months.
3. Postponement of court cases
The Office of the Chief Justice has issued a communiqué to inform the public that:
- All cases pending before all jurisdictions in Mauritius and Rodrigues stand postponed and the new dates at which those cases will be rescheduled will be communicated subsequently. Parties and witnesses should not attend court until further notice;
- Urgent civil and criminal matters that are to be lodged before any district court, will be heard before the District Court of Port Louis as from 23 March 2020;
- Urgent applications to the Judge in Chambers may be made between 23 March 2020 and 27 March 2020 for the first week of the confinement. Afterwards, the Judge in Chambers will only sit on 30 March, and 1 and 4 April 2020.
4. The work access permit issued by Commissioner of Police
Employers engaged in certain economic sectors may apply for work access permits for their employees to enable them to attend work on-site, as a derogation from the curfew order.
The economic sectors concerned are:
- public sector organisations;
- medical services;
- manufacturers of sanitary and hygiene products;
- nursing homes and medical care provides;
- supply of food;
- food production;
- food processing and beverages;
- supermarkets and associated supply chains;
- freight forwarding and other logistic activities;
- licensed telecoms operators;
- petrol stations;
- cooking gas distribution;
- banks, insurance and other financial services;
- port and airport related activities;
- press media and associated services;
- transport industry; and
- security guards and watchmen.
The work access permit:
- should be applied for in respect of a restricted number of staff only;
- allows travel to and from the employee’s residence and his place of work;
- is applied for online at [email protected]; the application form being available on the following websites: govmu.org; police.govmu.org; www.businessmauritius.org; www.mcci.org or www.mexamauritius.org. Status information on the application will be communicated via email to the applicant;
- will be subject to an obligation to implement and adhere to strict sanitary compliance.
Failure to respect any condition of the work access permit will result in severe sanctions which are yet to be prescribed. In case of doubt as to whether it applies to your enterprise, please contact us.
5. Wage support scheme
A wage support scheme will be implemented to provide financial support to employees who may become technically unemployed on a temporary basis due to the impact of the Coronavirus.
The government will contribute to the payment of salaries as follows, for the first 15 days of confinement only:
- 50% of the basic salary for employees earning up to MUR25 000;
- MUR12 500 for workers earning a salary between MUR25 000 – 50 000.
An application has to be made online to the Mauritius Revenue Authority at www.mra.mu.
Employers who have not made arrangements for payment of salaries need to attend the police station at Line Barracks to obtain a special authorisation to attend work today and tomorrow (24 March 2020) for payment of wages.
6. Home loan repayment
Commercial banks will provide a moratorium of six months on capital repayment of home loans. Further, a household earning a salary of MUR50 000 or less shall be dispensed from paying interest on their home loans from the period starting 1 April 2020 until 30 June 2020.
Reviewed by Thierry Koenig SA, head of ENSafrica (Mauritius).