Covid-19 impact and responses: Tunisia

Updated on: 27 August 2021

What is the current situation?

General information

Tunisian Government update, please click on this link.

COVID-19 update (as of February 5th, 2022)

As of February 5th, 2022, Tunisia has 934,712 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infections (1st case registered on March 2, 2020) and registered 26,548 deaths. As of 05 February 2022, 7.109.693 (1st) vaccine doses have been administered, and approximately 53.04% (6.268.617) of the population of almost 12 million are fully vaccinated either by receiving a second dose or by receiving a single dose vaccine. 1.045.202 booster doses have been administrated as well. The significant vaccination rate increase has helped in declining of contamination.

The health pass for vaccination against Covid-19 has become mandatory in accordance with the presidential decree published October 22,2021 in the Official Journal of the Republic of Tunisia.

The presidency of the government has decided to take health measures, in accordance with the recommendations of the scientific committee for the fight against the coronavirus at the Ministry of Health to deal with the increase in the rate of positivity relating to the disease, and this since January 13, 2022.

The Scientific Committee for the fight against the coronavirus proposes to maintain the preventive measures announced on January 13, for an additional period of two weeks. This was stated by Aman Allah Messaadi, member of the Committee, at the end of its periodic meeting held on Tuesday, January 25, 2022.

The scientific Committee recommends strengthening the control of the health pass and continuing the efforts deployed within the framework of the national vaccination campaign against the COVID-19. Messaadi said that the Committee members considered that the current epidemiological situation is in an ascending phase, which explains the increase in the number of patients residing in health institutions.

The positivity rate of COVID-19 tests continues its upward curve since January 2022 to reach 38.67% according to a press release issued by the Health Ministry on February 3,2022

International help to Tunisia

According to a press release from the United States Embassy in Tunisia, since July 2021, the United States has donated over 2.8 million vaccines to Tunisia. The U.S. government has as well provided Tunisia with more than $46 million in COVID-19 support, since March 2020. The U.S. government remain committed to working with the Ministry of Health to ensure that critical health equipment and supplies, including vaccine cold storage containers, remain readily available in health facilities throughout Tunisia.

Current Covid-19 measures as of January 13, 2022

  • A nationwide curfew in effect each day from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. while ordering the regional authorities to base themselves on the rate of contamination to apply this measure;
  • All gatherings and events are currently banned. Cafés, tea houses, pubs, and restaurants must serve at 50 percent capacity;
  • The application of the health protocol is strengthened;
  • Health measures at border posts are tightened via screening tests for all people wishing to access Tunisian territory;
  • People are called to avoid traveling to areas affected by the pandemic;
  • Missions abroad except for urgent cases are postponed;
  • Everyone over the age of 6 must wear a face mask in public spaces and on public transportation;

Entry to Tunisia

As of January 27, all incoming passengers to Tunisia aged 6 and over, including those fully vaccinated against COVID-19, are required to present one of the following:

  • A negative PCR test taken less than 48 hours prior to departing for Tunisia. This test should include a date and QR code;
  • A rapid lateral flow test less than 24 hours before travel. This test should include a date and QR code.
    All incoming travelers who are unvaccinated are required to complete a 5-day quarantine upon arrival at their own expense.
  • Unvaccinated travelers must present the following:
  • A self-funded PCR test done the last 24 hours of quarantine;
  • An evidence of a booking reservation for a quarantine hotel and a transport voucher for travel to the quarantine hotel. A list of approved hotels can be found here;
  • In the case of a positive PCR test following the quarantine period, the traveler will be transported to a COVID isolation center to be treated at their own expense.
  • All arriving air passengers must complete this Tunisian government short online questionnaire before arrival. Arriving passengers should print and sign the completed questionnaire and be prepared to show it upon flight check-in and/or to immigration authorities in Tunisia.

Political situation

  • Since July 25, 2021, Tunisia President Kais Saied has frozen the work of the Tunisian Parliament and dismissed the government. On September 22,2021, he assumed full powers and decided, September 29, 2021, to appoint Najla Bouden to form the government. “For the first time in Tunisia’s history, a woman will head a government,” Saied said in a video posted on the Presidency’s Facebook page. The Tunisian leader said he will work with Bouden “with a firm will and determination to combat corruption and chaos that pervaded in many state institutions.”
  • Kais Saied proposed on November 18, 2021 a constitutional referendum on July 25, 2022 and legislative elections on December 17, 2022. He also announced a three-month popular consultation period at the start of 2022 with a view to drafting the Constitution and the rapid holding of trials against those who have committed “crimes against the State and the people”. Citizens were called to send suggestions through electronic platforms from January 1 to March 20, 2022. Eligible topics include electoral, economic, financial, social, developmental, health, education and cultural affairs.
  • Tunisia’s Finance Law for 2022 was published in the Official Gazette on 28 December 2021. As indicated by Finance Minister Boughdiri’s presentation « Stabilizing public finances to reboot the economy », the 2022 finance law constitutes the government’s attempt to resolve, at least in part, its own budgetary issues, and to continue to dole out aid to businesses. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of measures in the new finance law are dedicated to these two economic actors.

The situation with factory production

  • Most of the factories are operating. In addition, vaccines are available, and garment factories (including Fair Wear member factories) have participated in the national vaccination campaign at workplace launched by the ministries of social affairs and health where workers are vaccinated on the factory premises.
  • The trade balance of the textile/clothing sector recorded, in 2021, a regression of 4.2 points but remained in surplus at 125.2%, against 129.3% in 2020, according to the analysis of the Technical Center for Textiles (CETTEX ) dated December 2021
  • In 2021, the value of the sector’s exports reached 2331.41 M€ , an increase of 13.47 %, while that of imports amounted to 1862.5 M€, a growth of 17.46 %.
  • The EU-funded SwitchMed/MED TEST III pilot project published its report on Wednesday 19 January 2022 and reveals the potential for producing jeans from materials recycled out of pre-consumer textile waste in Tunisia.

What are the policies of the government to support local businesses?

Developed on the basis of financial balances but also new fiscal measures, according to the Minister of Finance, the main objective of the Finance Law published on 28 december 2021 is to prepare the ground for the economic and social reforms that will be carried out from 2022 until 2026.

Several measures have been introduced in the 2022 finance law, in particular business support, promotion of investment and savings:

  • Establishment of a credit line of 25 million TND for the benefit of projects and small trades affected by the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Establishment of a line of credit of 30 million dinars to finance the creation of social and solidarity economy companies;
  • Revaluation by companies of built and unbuilt buildings based on their actual values: Exemption under certain conditions of the capital gain resulting from the revaluation by companies of built and unbuilt buildings, recorded in their balance sheets closed on December 31, 2021 and in the balance sheets of subsequent years;
  • Encouraging companies to finance research and development expenses by granting companies, under certain conditions, an additional deduction set at 50 % for research and development costs incurred under agreements concluded for this purpose
  • Increase in the amount of deductible interest for special savings accounts and bond loans;
  • Increase of the local turnover limit for totally exporting industrial companies: Authorization of totally exporting industrial companies to increase, during 2022, the percentage of local marketing of their products to 50% of their turnover export achieved during the year 2019 instead of 30% of its turnover for the past year
  • Measures have been adopted as well to encourage the green economy, sustainability and the energy transition such as 10% reduction in customs duties for the import of photovoltaic cells.
  • Provisions of 2022 finance law introduced as well a tax amnesty as follow:
  • Abandonment of late payment penalties as well as collection penalties and prosecution costs for taxes, duties and taxes due following a tax audit operation or recorded in the registers of the finance receiver;
  • Reduction by 50% of the amount of fines and pecuniary penalties and fines relating to administrative tax offenses recorded before April 25, 2022, as well as related prosecution costs.

What are the policies and regulations of the government to protect employees – the workers?

What do local stakeholders to lobby their government?

  • UTICA also provides all business operators of a complaints’ digital platform through which CEO or companies’ managers could put their complaints and/or their questions. UTICA will transmit these requests to the relevant institutions in order to find solutions. The hypertext address: https://forms.gle/H6McZhLn2ubNZE2D7
  • Set up of a multi-stakeholders’ governmental committee devoted to fellow up the most impacted companies by Covid-19. It is composed of representatives from ministry of finance and ministry of social affairs, the Tunisian Central Bank, UTICA (employers’ organization, UGTT, Tunisian Professional Association of Banks and Financial Institutions and UTAP (trade union of agriculture and fishing). Its main objective is to save jobs and protect workers’ rights.

What do local organisations do to support and protect the workers?

  • The Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA) announced, on Saturday January 1, 2022, the signature with the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), of an agreement on the increase in salaries in the private sector for the years 2022, 2023 and 2024.
  • According to a press release from the employers’ organization, this agreement includes an increase in the LMG (Guaranteed Interprofessional Minimum Wage) and general and constant monthly bonuses from which all employees of companies registered in the collective bargaining agreement benefit.
  • This agreement comes to concretize the agreement signed, on September 19, 2018, between the two professional organizations, according to the texts of this agreement.
  • The two parties have agreed to allocate, to employees in the sectors subject to the collective bargaining agreements that they have signed, an increase in the LMG of the order of 6.5% for the year 2022, which will be applied to the LMG for the year 2019, and will be put into effect from December 1, 2021 and a salary increase of 6.75% for the year 2023, applied to the LMG for the year 2022 and put effective January 1, 2023.
  • Under this agreement, the LMG will increase by 6.75% for the year 2024 (applied to the gross salary for the year 2023 and put into effect from January 1, 2023).
  • In addition, the constant and general monthly bonuses received by all employees of companies registered in the joint sectoral agreement will increase by 6.75% for the year 2022 and by 6.75% for the years 2023 and 2024.
  • According to the agreement, negotiations will start to revise the collective bargaining agreements either at the procedural or financial level before the end of October 2024, with the commitment not to demand any wage increase or a request having a financial impact during the period of application of this agreement
  • As part of the Tunisian-German cooperation project “The Alliance for Economic Growth, Employment and Social Dialogue”, the National Chamber of Studies, Consulting and Training of UTICA, organized on December 14, 2021, in partnership with the Tunisian-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the German Agency for International Cooperation GIZ Tunisia, a ceremony to close the training cycles in arbitration and conciliation and to announce the launch of the kawani.com distance learning platform.

What has been the response and requests of business associations to support the industry?

  • No information.

What are international brands doing to support the suppliers and protect the workers?

  • Example by brand: Not yet reported.

Covid-19: Unions mobilise across Middle East/North Africa
IMF: Policy responses to Covid-19
Ministry of Health National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases (ONMNE Tunisia) – Phone: +216 71 284 542 / 547/ 560/ 561
Current country analysis on Covid-19 as of April 26
STOP CORONA campaign