Arvin Halkhoree, Senior Associate-Barrister, Juristconsult Chambers

Arvin Halkhoree

The Minister of Health has on 16 August 2021 made the Covid-19 (Restriction of Access to Specified Institutions, Places and Premises) Regulations 2021 (hereinafter referred to as the “RASIPP Regulations”) which were published in the Government Gazette as Government Notice No. 194 of 2021. The regulations were made under section 4(2)(a) and 13 of the Quarantine Act 2020. Section 4(2)(a) in the Quarantine has been added by the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2021. The new section 4(2) provides that “for the purpose of preventing a spread of a communicable disease in Mauritius during a quarantine period, the Minister may, by regulations (a) restrict a person from having access to a specified institution, place or premises unless he satisfies such medical requirements, and complies with such conditions, as may be prescribed; and (b) provide for anything that is required to prevent the spread of a communicable disease, including the closure of premises, restriction of activities and prohibition to attend places”. With this amendment, the term “specified institution, place or premises” has now been introduced in the Quarantine Act without however providing for a definition for same.

Under the RASIPP Regulations, the Minister has defined the term “specified institution, place or premises” as follows:

a crèche, a day-care centre, a kindergarten, a special education needs institution, a pre-primary school, a primary school, a secondary school, a tertiary institution, a vocational training centre and any other educational or training institution, whether Government-owned or private-owned;

a hospital, mediclinic, dispensary, private health institution, area health centre, community health centre, cabinet médical and cabinet dentaire;

the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport and the Plaine Corail Airport;

the port premises of Port Louis harbour and the port premises of Port Mathurin harbour;

a residential care home licensed as such under the Residential Care Homes Act;

the Probation Hostel for Boys, the Probation Home for Girls and any other institution run by the Mauritius Probation and Aftercare Service under the Probation of Offenders Act; and

a reform institution under the Reform Institutions Act.

Each of “Plaine Corail Airport”, “port premises of Port Louis harbour”, “port premises of Port Mathurin harbour”, “reform institution”, “Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport” have been extensively defined in the RASIPP Regulations.

Under the RASIPP Regulations, during a quarantine period (which has  by General Notice 1142 of 2021 published in the Government Gazette on 26 July 2021, been extended to 31 August 2021), for the purpose of preventing the spread of Covid-19 in Mauritius, no person shall have access to any specified institution, place or premises unless he produces his Covid-19 vaccination card certifying that he has been vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccine, or in the case he has not been vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccine, a PCR test result slip certifying a negative result dating back to not more than 7 days from the date of the PCR test was undertaken.

The above requirement will not apply:

to a person under the age of 18;

to a person who has in his possession of a documented medical certificate, duly certified by a panel of 2 Government medical officers that, by reason of his medical conditions, he cannot be vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccine;

to a student under the age of 18 of an educational or training institution;

to a person availing himself of medical treatment from a hospital, mediclinic, dispensary, private health institution, area health centre, community health centre, cabinet médical and cabinet dentaire, or any other person accompanying him, or a person who has to procure medicine from that institution;

in relation to a residential care home to (i) persons who by reason of old age, disablement, a physical handicap, dependence on alcohol or drugs needs personal care, (ii) children and women who need personal care, (iii) persons suffering from sickness, injury or infirmity who need nursing, (iv) pregnant women or women immediately after childbirth who need personal care; persons who need nursing and/or treatment and who appear to be suffering from a mental disorder; and (v) persons in distress;

to a detainee, in relation to a reform institution;

to crew members of incoming and departing aircraft, other than crew members of Air Mauritius Ltd;

not apply to crew members or incoming and departing vessels.

A person who has a documented medical certificate as explained above may be required by the said panel of medical officers to undergo a PCR test at such interval as they may determine. However, the RASIPP Regulations do not make the PCR test a condition precedent for such a person to have access to a specified institution, place or premises.

The RASIPP Regulations further provide that if anyone is found to contravene these regulations or is found to be in possession of a forged vaccination card or a PCR test result slip, this would constitute a criminal offence and on conviction such person shall be liable to a fine not exceeding Rs 500,000 and to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years.

These regulations do not apply to the islands of Agalega, St Brandon and the Chagos Archipelago. These regulations would come into operation for the island of Rodrigues on 13 September 2021 whilst they come into operation on 21 August 2021 in relation to Plaine Corail Airport, the port premises of Port Louis harbour, the port premises of Port Mathurin harbour, a reform institution, probation hostels, residential care home and the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.

Since as of date the quarantine period ends on 31 August 2021, the coming into operation of these regulations for the island of Rodrigues scheduled for 13 September 2021 (except for its airport and port areas) is simply illusory, unless the intention of the Minister is clearly to extend that quarantine period further (as has been the case since the promulgation of the Quarantine Act 2020).