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Coronavirus - Implications of curfew order - Mauritius

  • Mauritius
  • Coronavirus
  • Coronavirus - Country overview

25-03-2020

Following the lockdown of the country effective since 20 March 2020, and the increasing number of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) cases, the Minister of Health and Wellness issued a Curfew Order by way of General Notice No. 512 of 2020 under Regulation 14 (1) of the Prevention and Mitigation of Infectious Disease (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020.

General Rule: Staying Outdoors is prohibited

Under the Curfew Order, subject to very limited prescribed exceptions no person should remain outdoors in Mauritius effective as from Monday 23 March 2020 at 20 00 hrs until Thursday 2 April 2020 at 20 00 hrs (the Curfew Period).

Exceptions: Public Officers and Essential Services

Notwithstanding the Curfew Order, the Commissioner of the Mauritius Police Force (the Commissioner) may exceptionally, and subject to terms and conditions as he may impose, issue a permit known as the COVID 19 Work Access Permit (the Permit) to certain persons (the Exempted Persons) for the sole purpose of travelling from their place of residence to their place of work, and vice-versa.

The Mauritius Police Force has recently issued further communications on 22 March 2020 relating to the Permit, such that the granting of the Permit is now a prerogative of the Commissioner.

Who are the Exempted Persons?

The following classes of persons are considered as exempted persons under the Curfew Order:

a) judicial officers ensuring a minimum level of judicial services as the Chief Justice deems essential;

b) employees of the public sector, including Ministries and Government departments, public enterprises and statutory bodies, providing essential services to the public as may be designated by the Head of the public bodies concerned; and

c) employees of the private sector providing strictly essential services.

Implications for employers of the Exempted Persons

The Curfew Order specifically mentions that the Permit does not exempt any employer from his statutory obligations pertaining to safety and health of its employees under any enactment which may be applicable.

Whilst employers have a general duty and obligation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 2005 (the OSHA) to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all its employees in so far as it is reasonably practicable, it is worth highlighting that the present situation for those Exempted Persons remains unprecedented.

Employers also have a duty, as per Section 12 of the OSHA, to ensure that appropriate procedures are followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to any person at his workplace, including the implementation of any measures published or recommended by the Government.

In situations like the present one, employers have a duty to implement measures for the protection of the Exempted Persons, who are entitled to immediately stop work in case of imminent and serious danger in the workplace. This entitlement should however be exercised in a reasonable manner, particularly having regard to the general duty of employees to cooperate with their employer in the discharge of any duty or requirement under the OSHA.

Sanctions for breach of the Curfew Order

If any person, other than an Exempted Person:

a) is found outdoors in breach of the Curfew Order;

b) is found outdoors for a purpose other than availing himself of urgent medical treatment, essential supplies, foodstuff, medicine or any other item essential for his subsistence or livelihood; and/or

c) breaches any condition of the Permit,

that person shall commit an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding MUR 500 and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.

COVID 19 Work Access Permit

Whilst bearing in mind that essential services are needed for the proper functioning of the country during the Curfew Period, consultations were held between the Monitoring Committee-COVID 19 set up by the Government and the Commissioner, to determine the sectors eligible for the Permit:

• Public Sector Organisations (including Ministries and Departments);

• Medical Services (Private Clinics, Pharmacies, Laboratories, Manufacturer of medical devices, etc);

• Manufacturers of Sanitary and Hygiene Products, Detergents, Sanitisers and Masks;

• Nursing Homes and Medical Care providers;

• Supply of food (including Bakeries, take away and home deliveries);

• Food production, farming (fruits, vegetables & livestock), food processing and beverages;

• Supermarkets and associated supply chains (including online purchase and home delivery);

• Freight Forwarding and other Logistic activities;

• Licensed Telecom Operators;

• Utilities;

• Petrol Stations and Cooking Gas distribution;

• Banks, Insurance and other Financial Services;

• Tourism;

• Airlines;

• Port and Airport related activities;

• Press, Media and associated services;

• Transport Industry including Taxis;

• Security Guards and Watchmen;

• Others (to be specified)

The Commissioner, who handles the applications made, has indicated that only a strict minimum number of employees will be allowed to utilise the Permit to provide the essential services.

 

How is the application made?

The application for the Permit needs to be made to the Commissioner by submitting the completed application form which may be downloaded from the following websites:

a) www.police.govmu.org 

b) www.pmo.govmu.org

c) www.mof.govmu.org

d) www.businessmauritius.org

e) www.mcci.org

f) www.mexamauritius.org

The application should be submitted to workaccesspass@govmu.org

 

Wage Assistance Scheme

On 23 March 2020, the Minister of Finance announced the Wage Assistance Scheme (the Scheme) to ensure that all employees in the private sector are duly paid their salary for the month of March 2020. The Scheme concerns both Mauritians and foreign employees working in Mauritius.

Following the announcement made by the Minister of Finance, the Mauritius Revenue Authority (the MRA) has issued a communiqué setting out the following:

a) All employers should effect payment of the monthly salary as usual. In case their business has been adversely affected by the Coronavirus and the effects of the lockdown, they may, after payment of salaries, apply to the MRA for financial support under the Scheme;

b) Under the Scheme, a business entity in the private sector is entitled to receive, in respect of its wage bill for the month of March 2020, an amount equivalent to 15 days’ basic wage for all its employees drawing a monthly basic wage of up to MUR 50,000, subject to a cap of MUR 12,500 of assistance per employee; and

c) Exceptionally, where a business is unable to effect payment of salary for the current month due to cash flow problem, it may apply to the MRA for assistance under the Scheme.

The application form relating to the Scheme is available on the following link: https://www.mra.mu/index.php/eservices1/corporate/gwas

Other support measures to enterprises affected by the Coronavirus

As part of other Government initiatives, the State Investment Corporation Limited in collaboration with Investment Support Programme Limited, SME Equity Fund Ltd and the Development Bank of Mauritius Ltd have set up the COVID-19 ‘Plan de Soutien’ Cell to support enterprises affected by the Coronavirus.

Application forms and further information are available on the following links:

a) http://www.stateinvestment.com/consultancy-services

b) https://www.smeequityfund.mu/support-measures-to-enterprises-affected-by-covid-19-2/

The above does not constitute legal advice, but rather recommendations of general application which may change depending on the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Independent legal advice should be obtained before implementing any measure which may impact upon rights and obligations.

For more information contact

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