MALE, 10 Sept 2020:
The Maldives government has made it mandatory from today for all tourists to present a negative Covid-19 test certificate upon arrival in the country.
The ministry of tourism said the PCR test must be carried out within 72 hours of departure from the country of origin.
Health ministry deputy director-general Thasleema Usman said the decision is to make virus tracking easy.
“Tourists do not have to present a clean certificate right now and as a result we are having difficulty tracking imported cases of Covid-19.”
The measure also seeks to ensure tourists do not carry the disease to inhabited islands, where guesthouses are set to reopen on Oct 15.
After imposing a months-long lockdown on March 27, the government had allowed tourists to visit luxury resorts situated in uninhabited islands from July 15 – although the reopening of guest houses and hotels on inhabited islands had been postponed.
At the time, authorities had announced visa-free travel in a bid to attract tourists and did not require them to undergo coronavirus tests on arrival or carry negative-test certificates.
“Tourists coming to resorts live inside their own bubble. But we cannot say the same about the guest houses which are all operated in inhabited islands,” Usman said.
Insisting she did not think the new measure would result in a drop in tourist arrivals, she highlighted that some airlines had also made it mandatory for passengers to produce negative PCR results before being allowed to fly.
“This step would further ensure safety of tourists travelling to the Maldives.”
In recent weeks Covid-19 cases have spiked in the country – where tourism forms the main pillar of the economy – mainly among migrant workers and locals in the densely populated capital Male.
The Maldives has so far registered more than 8,700 cases of Covid-19, including 29 deaths.