NEOC urges islands against restricting entry for resort workers

NEOC urges islands against restricting entry for resort workers

National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), on Wednesday, stated that resort workers that left their places of employment in accordance with the Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s guidelines could not be prevented from entering their islands of residence.

Speaking at the NEOC press conference, Communications Undersecretary at the President's Office Mabrouq Abdul Azeez revealed that there were several complaints of workers being barred from islands.

Assuring that all such cases have been solved through discussion, Mabrouq urged any resort employee facing similar difficulties to inform the Ministry of Tourism.

He stated that COVID-19 task forces established in islands would oversee arrangements for returning resort workers and mandate isolation periods considering the situation on the island.

Mabrouq started that resorts were mandated to inform relevant island authorities regarding employees given clearance to travel.

The government banned all travel between resorts and inhabited islands on March 14. The measure, intended to prevent local transmissions of the virus, was extended to liveaboards on March 21.

The travel ban left several resort workers across the archipelago in de facto quarantine for over a month and placed them at high risk of contracting the virus from incoming tourists.

Following the government's decision to halt issuing on-arrival visas from March 27 onward, workers were permitted to leave their place of employment 14 days following the departure of the last tourist at their respective establishments.

HPA's most recent amendment to regulations on April 19, redefined the criteria for leaving and mandated resorts and liveaboards to submit a consent form agreeing to permit their employees to leave.

At present, workers can leave if no individuals at the establishment developed any symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days of the arrival or departure of the last tourist.

Additionally, HPA stated that workers may leave resorts or liveaboards placed under monitoring if no suspected COVID-19 cases are identified and no individuals display symptoms within 14 days.

Maldives' first confirmed case of COVID-19 within the capital city of Male', was recorded on April 15, prompting the lockdown of the greater Male' region for 24 hours. Authorities extended the measures for a 14-day period on April 17 after new cases surfaced.

HPA ordered a travel ban on all islands across Maldives on April 16 as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

At present, Maldives records 85 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are total 68 active and two probable cases, while 16 have recovered.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected over 2.6 million people and claimed over 184,200 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 717,700 people have recovered.