HPA: Tourists will be tourists, whatever the purpose of visit

Tourists at Velana International Airport on August 11, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Health Protection Agency (HPA) states that whatever the purpose of visits by tourists, those who arrive in Maldives on a tourist visa cannot be taken any action against. 

In an interview to SanguTV on Wednesday night, HPA’s Deputy Director Hassan Mohamed said that he has heard rumors some tourists arrive in Maldives to complete their quarantine, but has not received any such information through official channels. 

“Foreigners who arrive in Maldives, if they come as tourists and on tourism visa, will be treated as tourists. The duration they spend in Maldives, and departing to another country from here, isn’t illegal. So, saying they are coming here for quarantine, we find it hard to determine that,” he said. 

Mohamed said that according to policies, any foreign national who comes to Maldives as a tourist, regardless of the purpose of their visit, will be treated as such. 

“We have set some additional standards in response to Covid. We have been implementing that since July 26,” he said. 

According to HPA guidelines, only fully vaccinated tourists who received their last vaccine dose at least 14 days before, along with the children they are travelling with, will be allowed to check-in to guesthouses residential islands. Tourists are required to present proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 96 hours prior to departure from original destination upon arrival to Maldives, and will be required to present proof of a negative PCR test when they check-out. 

While tourists who aren’t fully vaccinated are prohibited from checking in to guesthouses in residential islands as a general rule, exemptions are allowed if respective islands meet specific vaccination coverage targets. The targets are:  

60 percent of the total population in the island must be fully vaccinated  

95 percent of people in the island involved in providing services to tourists must be fully vaccinated  

90 percent of people above the age of 65 years in the island must be vaccinated 

Allegations have spread of foreign workers being allowed to stay in local guesthouses under the guise of tourists to complete their quarantine, sparking public concern.