The Maldives is Welcoming Tourists from July 15

Travelers will not need to face quarantine or show a negative Covid-19 test result upon arrival.

Sunset at Taj Exotica Resort & Spa in the South Male Atoll. (Photo: jcob nasyr/Unsplash)

With most countries in the Asia-Pacific region taking a more cautious approach to reopening their borders, summer holidays for many of us will be restricted to staycations or domestic breaks. One of the few destinations to buck the trend is the Maldives, where international visitors will soon be able to enter without a health certificate showing they are free from Covid-19, and without undergoing mandatory testing at the airport or a quarantine period. A free 30-day visa will be granted on arrival; at immigration, tourists must present a confirmed booking in a registered tourist facility and provide emergency contact information.

Yesterday, the country’s tourism ministry announced that leisure travelers would be allowed in from the middle of next month, with private-island resorts and liveaboards welcoming their first guests on July 15, and guesthouses and hotels on inhabited islands reopening two weeks later, on August 1. Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to hop between different resorts or parts of the country for the time being; visitors will be required to spend their entire stay at one property. But exemptions will be made for those requiring transit arrangements, for instance, late-night arrivals booked for an overnight stay in Male before a seaplane flight the next morning.

The Maldivian Ministry of Tourism has also released new health and safety guidelines that it says will offer “a balance of confidence and convenience.” Tourists must fill out a health declaration card upon arrival, and are encouraged (but not legally required) to install the contact-tracing app “Trace Ekee.” Temperature screening will be conducted at airports and other points of entry; only those who show any symptoms of Covid-19, which include a cough, runny nose, and shortness of breath, will be required to take a PCR test at their own expense.

If the test comes back positive for Covid-19, the tourist will either need to self-isolate in their designated room at their booked accommodation or at a government-run facility; this decision rests with the hotel or resort. Should the result be negative, tourists can continue to their chosen lodgings, but they will not be allowed to join recreational activities. Diving will only be possible after the symptoms have cleared completely.

While at the resort, a distance of at least one meter will need to be maintained between guests and staff members at all times, with staff obliged to wear face masks in enclosed public spaces and under circumstances when social distancing is not possible. As for liveaboards, tourists and crew members will be allowed to embark and disembark only at designated harbors listed by the Ministry of Tourism.

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