With the outbreak of coronavirus world-wide and its newly declared status as a pandemic, there are a lot of questions and misinformation being passed around social media with regards to travelling to different destinations. Below we list down everything you need to know before travelling to the Maldives.


Quick Summary

  1. Outbreak level: The Maldives is at Level 1 status (less India) and cases have started occurring only recently. Due to good quarantine measures, it isn’t spreading fast enough
  2. Disruption to Tourism: 4 island resorts where cases were discovered have been locked down, travel between different islands is banned and a lot of excursions and activities are also closed for the next 2 weeks at least
  3. Travel restriction for Indians: Ther are no visa restrictions for Indian travellers and entry and exit from the country is smooth. You will not be quarantined in India either unless you show symptoms.

Current Status

First of all, it’s important to understand the extent of the outbreak in any country and how quickly it is spreading. The below numbers will give you a basic understanding of whether the disease is under control or not.

Indian Govt Advisory on Travel

  1. The Government has advised avoiding non-essential travel from India to all Covid-19 affected countries. The Maldives has recently reported cases of Coronavirus and is implied to be on this list.
  2. All Indian nationals entering India from any port will have to fill a self- declaration form to declare their travel history, phone number and address in India to health officials and immigration officials.
  3. While it hasn’t been imposed yet, those returning from the Maldives could be asked to undergo self-imposed quarantine for 14 days from the date of their arrival if there are more cases there

Last updated on 14th March’20

Maldivian Government’s policies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus

Measures Taken at the port of entry:

  1. Thermal scanning for all incoming passengers.
  2. Travellers who have visited Italy, Mainland China, Iran, South Korean regions of North Gyeongsang Province and South Gyeongsang Province in the past 14 days, even if only in transit, will not be allowed to enter or transit through the Maldives. An exception is made only for Maldivian nationals.

NOTE: Visa on Arrival policy can still be availed for Indians.

Health infrastructure to contain the spread of the Virus

  1. The Maldives’ Ministry of Health has prescribed SOPs to all healthcare providers regarding testing and quarantine of potential coronavirus cases.
  2. Designated isolation facilities such as Farukolhufushi Centre have been set up for confirmed cases and anyone coming in contact with these patients is advised to self-quarantine and monitor themselves.
  3. As of 14th March 2020, Indian Defence has deployed a medical team to the Maldives to help deal with the pandemic.
  4. The Maldives government says it has built the world’s first coronavirus resort to quarantine patients on an island called Villivaru in the Kaafu Atoll, about 24km (15 miles) north of Malé, the capital city but they are currently using the Farukolhufushi island for isolating confirmed cases.

What Can You Do If You Experience Symptoms while in Maldives?

The first thing you should do if you feel unwell and suspect you may have COVID-19 is pick up the phone and call the local emergency helplines. Public transport should be avoided at all costs to avoid spreading the virus further.

  • Dedicated Emergency Helpline for Coronavirus: 1676
  • Ambulance: 102

In case you show symptoms, you may also contact your resort’s management for assistance. The Ministry of Health has issued SOPs to resorts as well and is monitoring them proactively. If you test positive you will be taken to the isolation facility on Farukolhufushi island.

Last updated on 14th March’20

Airport Experience at Destination

Arrival

A completed “Health Declaration Card” and an “Immigration Arrival Card” must be presented upon arrival. No other formalities or delays reported.

Departure

No issues reported so far.

Last updated on 14th March’20

On The Ground Status

General Initiatives

  1. Maldives had declared a 30-day state of public health emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, March 12.
  2. The government has ordered closure of all universities, colleges and training institutes starting from 15 Mar ’20 for 14 days
  3. Locals diagnosed with coronavirus have been placed under isolation and are being treated.

Tourism-specific Initiatives

  1. Thermal scanners have been set up at airports and people with higher temperatures are given further health check-ups.
  2. 4 resorts (Kuredu, Vilemendhu, Batalaa and Kuramathi) were placed on lock-down after guests and staff members were diagnosed with coronavirus. This lockdown has been partially lifted.
  3. Most activities and excursions have been cancelled, and island hopping is currently restricted.
  4. Travelling from resorts to other residential islands are currently banned for the next 14 days
  5. Check-ins of international tourists to guesthouses and city hotels in Male City, Hulhumale, and Vilimale, effective for 14 days starting from 00:00 hours on 15 March are not allowed

Last updated on 14th March’20

Ithaka’s Take

We strongly recommend all Indian travellers to not make any travel plans until at least the end of April. Being home and avoiding social contact completely is the only way to curb the spread of the virus.

However, if you really need to travel, Maldives is a relatively safe destination and the outbreak is in early stages right now. The government measures are good and since they have only one resort on one island, it’s a natural resistance to the spread of the virus.

Those who already have tripped booked can go ahead with their trip and visit the non-affected islands. However, expect some disruptions to your trip.

We would suggest that travellers exercise common-sense precautions while travelling and keep an eye on the news and Ithaka’s blog – we will be posting regular updates and travel advisory as the situation evolves.

The website of Maldives’ Ministry of Health (https://covid19.health.gov.mv/en/ ) updates the status of COVID-19 in the country two to three times daily and is a good resource to turn to.

If you’re thinking of travelling from India to the Maldives, but want some flexibility, check out our recommended airlines.

Recommended Airlines to travel from India to the Maldives

  1. GoAir: Free cancellation and rescheduling on all bookings made between 8th March 2020 till 30th April 2020. The travel period will have to be between 8th March 2020 until 30th September 2020. The ZERO cancellation fees and ZERO rebooking fees will be applicable only if the customer opts for it 14 days before departure. When rescheduling a flight, fare differential, if any, will be applicable.
  2. Indigo: Cancellation fee is applicable. However, up to 3 days prior to the flight, the change fee is waived. Therefore, only fare difference has to be paid for rescheduling. The journey can be rescheduled multiple times for bookings up to 31st March but only once beyond that date.
  3. Air India: Cancellation fee is applicable. However, change fee has been waived for a One-Time change up to 30th April 2020.

For further information and details, kindly reach out to Ithaka. We’re happy to help 😊

Last updated on 14th March’20

Sources

  1. Maldives’ Ministry of Health
  2. India Today
  3. South China Morning Post
  4. The Republic of Maldives – President’s Office