Maldives moves to reopen govt offices under strict rules after two months

Government offices in Maldives are set to reopen on Monday after more than two months, but officials have been asked to follow strict safety guidelines including no service in person.

In a directive issued Saturday, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih instructed his ministers to reopen their offices in the first two weeks of June from 9am to 1pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

But only employees that need to be physically present in the office to carry out essential works will be allowed to go to office. All the others have been asked to continue working from home.

Services that require contact with the public will not be provided.

Ministers and heads of offices have been asked to share with the Health Protection Agency (HPA) details of the work they intend to carry out. They also have to follow HPA’s guidelines and instructions.

Government offices have been closed since March 19, shortly after the Maldives identified its first cases of the novel coronavirus.

The reopening of government offices on Sunday is in line with a roadmap unveiled by the government last week to ease the Maldives out of a crushing lockdown.

The restrictions in the capital region are being eased in phases, with the first phase starting Thursday and lasting at least two weeks.

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 1,633.

Five deaths have been reported and 242 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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