Over 465 resort workers in Maldives begin journey home with fortnight quarantine

Tourism authorities in Maldives have moved 467 resort workers to quarantine facilities as part of efforts to allow those stranded in capital Male to return to their resident islands.

Tourism ministry said Tuesday that 582 individuals registered to return to their islands, but 80 failed to prove that they were resort workers and another 26 were unreachable.

The remaining 35 resort workers are awaiting transport.

“The ministry notes that resort workers were amongst those that sacrificed the most during the national fight against Covid-19. We sincerely thank all resort workers and managements for their patience and cooperation,” a statement read.

The Maldives has enforced a blanket suspension of on-arrival visa in a bid to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

With the visa suspension in effect and no international airlines flying into the country, several resorts across the Maldives had been closed.

Workers were allowed to travel out of the resorts only after a fortnight from the date of the last guest departure.

Many travelled to capital Male to catch onward flights and boat transfers to their resident islands. But they were later stranded in the capital after the government placed Male on lockdown on April 15.

Authorities have since begun issuing permits for those with pressing needs to leave Male. But they are required to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a designated facility.

On March 8, Maldives reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus, as two hotel employees tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury resort in the archipelago.

Eighteen more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels except five Maldivians who had returned from abroad — were later identified.

A six-case cluster of locals, detected in capital Male on April 15, confirmed community transmission of the coronavirus. Several more clusters have since been identified, bringing the total number of confirmed case in the Maldives to 1,438.

Five deaths have been reported and 232 have made full recoveries. Five remain in intensive care.

The Maldives announced a state of public health emergency on March 12, the first such declaration under a recent public health protection law.

The public health emergency declaration has allowed the government to introduce a series of unprecedented restrictive and social distancing measures, including stay-at-home orders in capital Male and its suburbs, a ban on inter-island transport and public gatherings across the country, and a nationwide closing of government offices, schools, colleges and universities.

Non-essential services and public places in the capital such as gyms, cinemas and parks have also been shut.

Restaurants and cafes in the capital have been asked to stop dine-in service and switch to takeaway and delivery.

A nationwide shutdown of all guesthouses, city hotels and spa facilities located on inhabited islands is also in effect.

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