Mauritius has suspended all incoming flights for a period of one week.
Effective from midnight this past Saturday, no passengers are allowed entry or to transit through the Republic of Mauritius or its outer island of Rodrigues. The decision came after a meeting of the country's National Covid-19 High Powered Committee and was circulated by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority.
The Indian Ocean nation has also extended its quarantine regulations so that all passengers entering Mauritius until May 31 will have to complete a 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival. Mauritius has so far implemented a rigorous monitoring regime to keep the island safe: all arrivals to the island are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine, combined with a pre-departure PCR test, arrival test and follow-up tests on days seven and 14 of their stay.
News of the border closure comes as a surprise, as Mauritius has been pitching itself as a safe haven from the pandemic. It launched its Premium Visa initiative in November, which allows tourists, retirees and professionals who are able to work remotely to stay on the island for up to a year.
According to Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, the long-stay visa was launched “to meet the growing demand from international visitors looking to relocate to the Covid-secure island for work, leisure or retirement”. The destination had also previously communicated plans to allow tourists who have been vaccinated to enter the country freely.
Mauritius has a vaccination programme underway and is prioritising healthcare workers, the elderly and about 25,000 islanders who work in the tourism industry. There has been relatively little disruption to daily life in Mauritius as a result of the pandemic, with very few known cases of community transmission.
The country's border closure comes days after its fellow Indian Ocean destination, the Seychelles, announced that it will completely reopen its borders to international visitors, irrespective of their vaccination status, on Thursday, March 25.
Sylvestre Radegonde, the Seychelles' minister for foreign affairs and tourism, announced in a press briefing that there will be no quarantine requirements or movement restrictions for travellers to the Indian Ocean archipelago.
The only requirement is that all visitors will need to present a negative PCR test, taken 72 hours prior to arrival. They will then need to adhere to public health measures currently in place in the country, which include wearing faces masks and social distancing in public.
The only visitors exempt from these new rules are those from South Africa, who will not be permitted to enter the Seychelles until further notice.