How will people cope with the COVID-19 confinement financially?

Ish Sookun

People of Mauritius are under a nationwide confinement since 19 March 2020. This confinement is to last for about two weeks, during which people are to remain at home and special permits are given to certain essential services workers to be able to travel only between their home and workplace.

As per the Cabinet Decisions of 20 March 2020, a COVID-19 Wage Support Scheme will provide financial support to  employees who would become technically unemployed on a temporary basis due to the impact of COVID-19. The scheme will cover formal sectors (mainly Travel and Tourism Sector, Export Oriented Enterprises, ICT/BPO Sector and SMEs). This support will be extended to other formal sectors of the economy.

I could not find a proper reference on the Government portal that highlights what are formal sectors but I assume they mean companies duly registered and operating within a defined industry (like the examples given above, Tourism, ICT/BPO etc).

Therefore, I also assume that my neighbourhood dhollpuri seller, carpenters, construction workers, plumbers and labourers will not benefit from the COVID-19 Wage Support Scheme.

My self-employed friends will be left on their own to pay their rents, utility bills and mortgages.

Confinement means no work, which means no income for them. How will they cope financially during this confinement period? What happens if the confinement is extended after the two weeks?

I am a proponent of this confinement which I feel is a necessary step to stop the propagation of COVID-19 on the island. I know the economy will be severely hit but I am also putting my trust in the capable authorities to sustain its people and help them cope financially.

I sincerely hope that the authorities extend the support to more people currently affected by the COVID-19 confinement.