Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities lift curfew in Male, Maldives, as of April 9. Social distancing, international travel restrictions continue as of April 10.

This alert affects Maldives

This alert began 10 Apr 2020 06:49 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry restrictions, transport and business disruptions

Summary
Officials have lifted a daily 1700-2000 curfew in Male as of April 9, despite maintaining other measures to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities continue to ban public gatherings of more than three people. Leaders have advised all residents to stay at home whenever possible and comply with social distancing standards when going out to attend to essential tasks. Recreation facilities, tourist sites, and excursions remain closed. Officials extended an ongoing closure of nonessential government offices and educational institutions for a fourth week April 8; additional extensions are possible. 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 no widespread business closures nationwide. However, officials have restricted operations for retailers and restaurants in Male, Vilimale, and Hulumale; restaurants must halt dine-in operations and restrict take out service to 1600-2359, while stores must close 2300-0600. The government has assured there would be an adequate supply of essential goods such as fuel, food, and medicine. Additional restrictions on transport and business operations are possible if in-country COVID-19 cases rise.

International maritime passenger transport remains banned. Travel restrictions and low demand have affected multiple international and domestic flights. Further flight disruptions are highly likely as demand for international and domestic travel decreases sharply.

Travel Restrictions

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.

Advice
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 March 31, plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

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.

Resources
Health Protection Agency: www.hpa.gov.mv

Maldives Immigration Authority Twitter: www.twitter.com/ImmigrationMV

World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int