Covid-19: Mauritius to give free vaccines to long-term visitors

The Indian Ocean destination will offer travellers the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine

Mauritius will offer long-term visitors free Covid-19 vaccinations. Unsplash
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The government of Mauritius announced on Thursday that it was expanding its Covid-19 vaccination programme to include long-term international visitors over the age of 18.

The island nation hopes to attract more tourists with the move, which is part of the nation's effort to fully reopen the country's borders.

Mauritius, which is located off the coast of Africa and surrounded by the Indian Ocean, is the first country in the world to offer travellers free vaccinations.

Citizens, residents and long-term travellers holding premium visas will be offered the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine.

Despite currently being in lockdown, authorities hope the free vaccine scheme will encourage travellers to come and visit the country's idyllic beaches, lush mountains and pristine islets.

How long do I need to stay in Mauritius to get the vaccine?

Travellers must spend at least six months in Mauritius to be eligible for the free Covid-19 vaccines. Unsplash

Only travellers who have Mauritius’s premium visa will be eligible for the vaccine.

This free renewable visa allows visitors to stay in Mauritius for up to 12 months. It can be applied for online once travellers have confirmed flights to the republic.

Travellers visiting Mauritius for holidays of less than 180 days will be issued a tourist visa rather than a premium visa. Essentially, this means to qualify for the free vaccine, travellers will need to spend 181 days, about six months, there.

Applications for the visa are open to anyone currently in Mauritius on a short-stay visa, and to anyone from a list of 114 countries keen to go and live or work in Mauritius.

Applicants need to be able to produce proof of long-stay plans, including accommodation bookings, and have sufficient travel and health insurance. Digital nomads are welcome, with remote working from the islands encouraged, so long as the work is outside the country's labour market and income sources.

All international passenger flights to Mauritius are currently suspended, so anyone keen on applying for the visa will have to wait for that to change before being able to travel.

Do I need to quarantine when travelling to Mauritius?

Mauritius is famous for its idyllic beaches, thriving marine life and lush greenery, and now also for being the first country in the world to offer travellers free Covid-19 vaccines. Unsplash

The current suspension of inbound flights into Mauritius is in place until at least Friday, March 26.

Prior to the suspension, all visitors had to undergo hotel quarantine for 14 days when arriving in Mauritius. This had to be pre-booked on a full-board basis, with a choice of two-star, three-star and four-star hotels. Those quarantine requirements will remain in place until Monday, May 31.

Visitors were also required to have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result on arrival, and to undergo further PCR tests on days seven and 14 after arrival.

Like other idyllic beach destinations, Mauritius relies heavily on tourism. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism accounted for 23.9 per cent of Mauritius' GDP.

Mauritius has recorded only 664 cases of Covid-19 since the start of the global pandemic. Case numbers have been rising since January, and the discovery of 15 cases in one day this week has forced authorities to impose a two-week nationwide lockdown.