Emergency A. Nature and Description of emergency COVID-19 Measures

Acts of Parliament

  • The COVID-19 (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (COVID-19 Act) of 15 May 2020
    The COVID-19 Act made far-reaching amendments to 56 legislations to cater for the impact of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and provide for the relaxation of certain requirements during the ‘COVID-19 period.’ The ‘COVID-19 period’ is defined, through the amendment brought by the COVID-19 Act to the Interpretation and General Clauses Act 1974, which is the enactment that provides for the construction and interpretation of other legislative instruments, as well as other related matters. As such, ‘COVID-19 period’ is defined as the period starting on 23 March 2020 and ending on 1 June 2020 or ending on such a later date as the Prime Minister may, by regulations, prescribe. 

  • The Quarantine Act of 2020
    The object of this Act is to repeal the Quarantine Act, which dates back to the year 1954, and re-enact a reformed and modern appropriate legislative framework with a view to providing more appropriate measures for the prevention and spread of communicable diseases. The new legislation has been rendered necessary on account of the impact of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov), the infectious disease commonly known as COVID-19. 


  • Regulations made by the Minister under section 4(1)(a) and (b) of the Quarantine Act 
    The Regulations were made and gazetted on 19 March 2020 to bar entry into Mauritius in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

Democracy B. Democracy-related issues arising from COVID-19 responses of states

  • Elections 
    Mauritius is not one of the 22 countries holding any form of election this year. Therefore, currently there are not meaningful responses by the Mauritius Government of elections as they may be affected by COVID-19. However, its local elections are due in 2021 and should the pandemic tarry, It would have to devise means to creatively conduct its elections. One of such means is voting by proxy which is already in place in Mauritius but may be extended to accommodate the realities of the pandemic. 

  • Executive 
    The various ministries headed by the executive in Mauritius have released a number of communiqués as may be related to their portfolios during the pandemic. Some of them include the Ministries of Health and Wellness, Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Agro-Industry and Food Security, Commerce and Consumer Protection and several others. A summary of these communiqués from 16 March to 19 June 2020 may be seen further here. 

  • Parliament 
    On 15 May 2020, the National Assembly of Mauritius passed a law that amended 56 other laws through the COVID-19 Act in order to contain the spread and impact of the coronavirus in Mauritius. It also amended the provisions of the Quarantine Act in order for its provisions to carry more effective impacts for the containment of the coronavirus pandemic in Mauritius. See section 1 for these laws.

  • Judiciary (role of courts; decided cases related to COVID-19)
    (all cases related to COVID-19 collected here)  There is no publicly available information on court cases or other COVID-19-related judicial activities as at the time of preparing this report.

  • Transparency/ access to information 
    There have been claims that the Government of Mauritius effectively carried out public campaigns with respect to updates on the virus. There were daily press releases and intensive awareness campaigns that allow for more credible access to official information. See here for more.

  • Abuse by law enforcement agents / exacerbation of authoritarian tendencies / power grabs
    At least, there have been reports on the death of five men and other numerous police brutality in Mauritius during the lockdown. See here for more.

  • Democratic reform
    There is no publicly available information on issues of democratic reform as at the time of preparing this report.

  • Others 
    There is no publicly available information on other issues under this part as at the time of preparing this report.

Human Rights C. Human rights-related issues arising from COVID-19 responses of states

  • Right to health (including infrastructure, access to testing)
    The government of Mauritius ramped up the healthcare system as soon as it initiated a lockdown on 18 March 2020. Hotels were turned into quarantine facilities; five dedicated Covid-19 testing centres were set up outside major hospitals; 18 doctors were appointed to answer calls at a special coronavirus hotline; hundreds of hospital beds were identified and isolated for Covid-19 patients; and Air Mauritius planes were repurposed to bring in ventilators and personal equipment from all over the world.

    As of May 19, Mauritius had conducted 92764 tests. This works out to a little over 7% of the 1.2-million population — the highest testing ratio in any African country, says the WHO. However, there were reports that citizens were refused medical attention unless it was an emergency. 

  • Right to housing (including homelessness, informal settlements, slums, shacks) 
    A Special Assistance Plan was put in place by the Bank of Mauritius for families who have contracted a housing loan at any commercial bank so that they will be entitled to a six-month moratorium to pay the capital of their loans due to the economic impacts of the pandemic.

  • Right to water and sanitation
    Currently, Mauritius has water distribution challenges and given the centrality of the need to access adequate water distribution, it might pose a huge challenge in combating the pandemic in the country.

  • Right to food/ nutrition and other socio-economic rights 
    Mauritius has taken a set of measures to support households and communities. These include the distribution of 35,000 food packs to vulnerable people, a Wage Support Scheme, support to informal workers and communities.

  • Economic impact/ impact small business/ employment social security networks
    With respect to the economic impact on Mauritius’ economic mainstays like tourism, trade, construction, and manufacturing sectors, the Government has announced a 10% reduction in its overall spending. Additionally, an initial financial support plan to the tune of Rs 9 billion has been approved to mitigate the adverse impacts of the crisis. An Implementation and Monitoring Committee comprising public and private sector representatives has been constituted to ensure its effective implementation. Also, small enterprises whose electricity consumption do not exceed 125 kilowatts will receive a reduction of 10 percent. Also, financial support of Rs 5100 to persons employed in informal sectors and those who are self-employed, and reopening of supermarkets under strict guidelines, amongst others will be made available.

  • Women (including domestic violence)
    According to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, between 18 March to 15 May 2020, there were 349 reported cases of domestic violence against women in Mauritius. The Ministry together with the police have since intervened.

  • Children (including education)
    According to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, between 18 March to 15 May 2020, there were 463 reported cases of domestic violence against children in Mauritius. The Ministry together with the police have since intervened. Also, during this period, 37 children tested positive to the virus. 

    On education, the Government of Mauritius, guided by the provisions of the new COVID-19 Act is carrying out phased re-opening of schools while also leaning towards international experiences in carrying out the re-openings. Prior to that, the Government had encouraged digitally-facilitated learning for students in most schools in Mauritius.

  • Persons with disabilities 
    Some days after the lockdown was announced, the Government announced that 35,000 households, including persons living with disabilities will receive food packs. In addition to this, the Government announced support for 58,000 beneficiaries who will benefit from 20 percent reduction on their electricity bills and several other benefit packages.

  • LGBTI persons 
    There have been no meaningful LGBTI-specific responses by the Government on how COVID-19 is affecting the group. The impact of the pandemic on LGBTI persons has been documented here.

  • Indigenous persons
    There is no publicly available information on indigenous persons as at the time of preparing this report.

  • Migrants
    While there are laws that protect mostly migrant and precarious workers from the pervasive economic effects of the pandemic, only few impacts have been recorded as employers are pushing back against these laws. Also, due to the limitations placed on movements, it is unclear what the plans of the Government are in safeguarding the rights of migrants in Mauritius. 

  • Persons deprived of their liberty (persons in incarceration; police detention)
    There is no publicly available information on persons deprived of liberty as at the time of preparing this report.

  • Right to life and bodily security (arrests; deaths as result of lockdown)
    See B6 above.

  • Freedom of assembly
    Given the provisions of the Quarantine Act of 2020, the right to freedom of assembly has been seriously curtailed.

  • Freedom of movement
    Given the provisions of the Quarantine Act of 2020 and other regulations, the right to freedom of movement has been seriously curtailed.

  • Freedom of expression/ access to information/ privacy/digital rights
    At least two persons have been arrested and one radio station has had its license suspended during the lockdown. The two arrests were made on the account that they were spreading false news and the radio station was closed down on the account of a protracted challenge on the constitution of its Board.

  • Others
    There are no publicly available information on other issues under this part as at the time of preparing this report.

Summary D. Summary (Analysis, Trends)

Mauritius approached the pandemic differently from other African countries in terms of the laws and regulations adopted. It used primary laws instead of subsidiary or secondary legislation to address major areas that the pandemic might affect in Mauritius. This included using one law – the COVID-19 Act to amend as many as 56 extant legislation. While this approach is unique, it is not immediately clear if this is connected to the reason why Mauritius was able to combat the virus early on. Nonetheless, it demonstrates an extra quality of commitment by the Government of Mauritius on combatting the pandemic even though there are still challenges on healthcare, water distribution, lack of vulnerable groups-specific policies during the pandemic and other human rights-related issues.


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