HPA allows travel to vote without quarantine

Members of the general public have been criticizing HPA for caving under political pressure and giving leniency for political activities relating to Local Council Elections, which might compromise the measures imposed to curb the Covid-19 spread within Maldives. HPA has also been criticized for not voicing out their concerns when ruling party, MDP fails to abide by the HPA guidelines.

Director General of Public Health, Maimoona Abubakr | Photo: Avas

Malé, Maldives – Health Protection Agency (HPA) has announced that people can travel to other islands without the mandatory 10 day quarantine for voting.

According to the announcement made by HPA, they have allowed travel between islands for voting without quarantine until April 11, 2021 under strict measures.

HPA has mandated 10 rules for those who travel for voting to follow. Those are;

  1. Not going to other places other than the polling stating. This includes eateries, cafés and restaurants.
  2. Food arrangements need to be made separately for the person.
  3. Should not meet with other people or visit houses.
  4. Must travel back to the island from which the person came from within 48 hours after voting.
  5. Inform the Covid-19 task force of the island to which the person is traveling to before the trip with the dates of travel and place of stay.
  6. Must vote during the period allocated by Elections Commission for those in quarantine or home isolation.
  7. Follow all other measures stated in the regulation released for Local Council Elections to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The announcement signed by Director General of Public Health, Maimoona Abubakr stated that only those who are going to vote can travel under this regulation. The regulation from HPA comes while several institutions, especially Elections Commission had called to allow equal opportunities for everyone to vote in the Saturdays election.

President of Elections Commission, Ahmed Shareef had stated earlier that all citizens can vote in the upcoming local council elections as long as they are included in the voter’s list regardless of how and where they came from or whether they have any specific permit. 

EC Shareef stated that if the individual’s name is included in the list, then they can vote in the upcoming elections and that the officials will not check from where or how the person arrived to the place. Along with this, EC stated that the Commission will not check whether the individual has permission from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) either.

In this year’s elections, the people who are positive for Covid-19 will vote at the last after the general public’s queue is closed after 17:00hrs on the elections day. The duration given for Covid-19 positive to vote is from 17:00 till 18:00. 

While President of Elections Commission, Ahmed Shareef had guaranteed that everyone turning 18 by April 10, can vote in the upcoming, EC revealed that they have released updated voters list now. Elections Commission also added that out of the 273,182 eligible voters, 5,134 are those who turned 18 within the year by which the election was postponed. 

Elections Commission also revealed that 2,264 candidates will run for council and 1,670 candidates will run for Women’s Development Committees (WDC) in the election which is to be held on April 10, 2021. 

The Local Council Election was originally supposed to be held on 4 April 2020, but due to the alarming increase of Covid-19 cases in Maldives, the country had gone into a lockdown, and the election was delayed by a year to 10 April 2021.

The Parliament had to pass a special bill due to the implications of Covid-19 in the elections, and this bill is to be followed for all incoming elections. The Local Council Election is to be held on April 10th.

While the upcoming Local Council Elections (LCE) and Women’s Development Committee (WDC) elections will be held according to the guidelines given by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), this time more ballot boxes would be places in different areas as the HPA guidelines does not allow people to travel from one island to another. The voters will also be required to adhere to guidelines such as maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.