Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid announced that India would grant certain visa exceptions to Maldivians despite the Indian government's decision to temporarily halt the issuance of visas over the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Indian High Commission in Maldives has requested Indian authorities to approve visas for Maldivians seeking to travel to the neighbouring country for urgent purposes.
Additionally, any Maldivians that have yet to travel despite previously having acquired visas can contact the High Commission to validate their documents.
The High Commission further stated that the procedure for Maldivians currently in India would be in accordance with existing agreements between both governments.
Minister Shahid expressed gratitude to the Indian High Commission for facilitating the special exemption.
The Indian government has decided to discontinue issuing visas until April 15. Only diplomats, United Nations officials, members of other international organizations, project visa holders and individuals travelling for work are excluded from the policy.
Furthermore, India has mandated a 14-day quarantine period for any individual arriving in the country after travelling to China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain or Germany following February 15.
Sri Lanka and Thailand also introduced measures such as an indefinite halt on issuing on-arrival visas. However, both countries cited their visa-free agreements with Maldives as the reason for exempting Maldivians from the policy.
COVID-19 has spread to 123 countries, infected 126,386 individuals and caused 4,635 deaths, while 68,313 have recovered from the virus.
World Health Organisation (WHO) classified the outbreak as a pandemic on Wednesday.