Wearing masks will be compulsory in islands with operational guesthouses: HPA

Tourists arriving in Maldives after the borders opened after being closed amid the Covid-19 pandemic | Photo: Mihaaru

Male’, Maldives – Health Protection Agency (HPA) has announced that wearing masks will be compulsory in islands with operating guesthouses.

This announcement was made last night by spokesperson of Health Emergency Operation Center (HEOC) Dr. Nazla Rafeeg as guesthouses would reopening in islands other than the ones in Male’ area on this Thursday. According to Dr. Nazla, the decision of making wearing masks compulsory was a part of trying to implement strict safety measures for the protection of the guests who come to the guesthouses as well as the general public of those islands.

The guesthouses were closed along with resorts after the national border was closed off on March 27 due to Covid-19 community spread which started in Male’. Even though resorts reopened on July 15 after consideration of the Covid-19 situation and the national economy, guesthouses have remained closed up until now.

During the press conference last night, Dr. Nazla said that the guidelines and safety measures to be following in islands with operating guesthouses will be similar to that of Male’. She also said that wearing masks will be compulsory for both tourists and locals in those islands.

She further added that there will be certain guidelines for travelling from islands with operating guesthouses to those that do not. This will include having to spend 14 days in quarantine unless the trip is an absolute necessity such as consulting doctors or seeking bank services.

Permission to reopen will only be given to those guesthouses that are in accordance with the guidelines and requirements which have been published by the HPA. This includes having a separate isolation room for each guesthouse. The guidelines mandate that the total number of isolation rooms island would be based on the total number of beds in that specific island. In addition to this, separate isolation rooms should be arranged for people who are mildly positive and the contacts of such people according to this guideline.

The guideline also states that the islands with operating guesthouses must have a special transport vehicle for transporting positive people to facilities as well as have a flu clinic to treat symptomatic people. Furthermore, every Acute Respiratory Infection case consulted at the flu clinic must be reported to HPA and if any symptoms are seen, then the person must be tested for Covid-19. The cost for testing and treatment of the tourists is to be covered on their own.

The borders of Maldives reopened on 15th July and tourists from different countries have been arriving since then. As of now, only safaris and resorts are allowed for the tourists. Tourism Ministry said that 80 percent of the tourism establishments will reopen by the end of this year along with the start of local tourism.