Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities extend curfew in Greater Male, Maldives, through at least May 14. Other measures, travel restrictions continue.

This alert affects Maldives

This alert began 30 Apr 2020 04:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 14 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 14
  • Impact: Entry restrictions, transport and business disruptions

Officials have extended a curfew across the Greater Male region until at least 2359 May 14. Authorities have also initiated an indefinite nationwide ban on congregational prayers effective April 20, while maintaining other measures to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Officials restarted the curfew April 15 after lifting a previous daily 1700-2000 curfew in Male, April 9. Residents must stay at home during the curfew period, while one person per household may apply online for a special movement permit to obtain essential supplies every three days. All nonessential government offices and businesses remain closed. Public transport within and connecting Greater Male - except for permitted bus and ferry services for permit holders - will remain suspended until the end of the curfew; inter-island travel is also banned. Domestic air travel is significantly limited after the national carrier, Maldivian Airlines, indefinitely suspended domestic passenger flights from April 15. Although the government has assured the supply and delivery of essential items such as food, fuel, and medicine, panic buying could lead to localized shortages in the likely event of curfew extension.

Nationwide measures such as a ban on public gatherings of more than three people, as well as closure of nonessential operations, such as some government offices, educational institutions, recreation facilities, and tourist sites and excursions, continue. All congregational prayers are also prohibited effective April 20 until further notice. Leaders have advised residents across the Maldives to stay at home whenever possible and comply with social distancing standards when going out to attend to essential tasks. Police have deployed to enforce the measures and could detain or fine violators.

Authorities have also advised nonessential public and private entities to utilize telecommuting facilities. There have been increasing restrictions on business operations nationwide, mainly in urban centers; movement controls are in place across Addu, Fuvahmulah, and Kulhudhuffushi cities, as well as atolls such as Haa Alif, Noonu, and Shaviyani. Additional restrictions on transport and business operations are possible if in-country COVID-19 cases rise.

Travel Restrictions

International maritime passenger transport remains banned. Travel restrictions and low demand have affected multiple international and domestic flights. Officials continue to ban foreign nationals with recent travel history in China, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Iran, Italy, France, Germany, the UK, along with North Gyeongsang Province, Daegu, and Busan in South Korea. Authorities have suspended visa-on-arrival issuance for all foreigners at all ports of entry, effectively banning most inbound travel by nonresident foreign nationals. Foreign nationals planning on essential travel to the Maldives must contact the nearest Maldivian diplomatic mission for visa issuance after medical checks. Officials have advised Maldivian nationals to suspend all nonessential international travel. Maldivian citizens arriving from some countries, including the US, are quarantined at a designated facility for 14 days; those returning from other foreign countries will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Foreign tourists already in the county cannot check into hotels or guesthouses across the Maldives; they must stay in resorts, where officials may enforce temporary movement and exit restrictions in the event of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Maldives government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm business appointments, deliveries, and travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Ensure access to essential items at least through April 30, plan for queues and delays at functional retail outlets.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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