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Resort employees permitted to return to work

Mariyam Malsa
04 June 2020, MVT 16:45
Aerial view of Cinnamon Ellaidhoo. PHOTO: CINNAMON ELLAIDHOO
Mariyam Malsa
04 June 2020, MVT 16:45

Ministry of Tourism, on Wednesday, issued a statement opening the opportunity for resort workers to return to their places of employment following disruptions caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The statement noted that the Health Protection Agency (HPA) had permitted such employees to travel directly to resorts provided that their islands of residence were not under monitoring or have been removed from monitoring status 14 days prior.

According to the tourism ministry, workers residing in islands recently removed from monitoring could also travel back to resorts. However, these individuals will be required to remain under quarantine for 14 days following transport. Other workers are allowed to recommence duties immediately.

Noting that HPA must be notified regarding any workers travelling back to resorts, the tourism ministry stated that workers could contact +960 7223131 with their personal information or email the ministry at smu@tourism.gov.mv.

Resorts are also mandated to inform the tourism ministry concerning employees returning to work.

The tourism ministry has declared that Maldives will be reopening its borders for visitors in July 2020, four months after the government temporarily stopped issuing on-arrival visas on March 27 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although authorities are yet to disclose further details on plans to restart tourism, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih declared earlier this month that the main gateway of Maldives, Velana International Airport, was set to welcome international flights in July given a sustained improvement of the COVID-19 situation in the country.

Amid the economic repercussions of the pandemic, several resort workers lodged complaints concerning terminations, mandatory unpaid leaves and salary reductions to the 'jobcentre' portal established by the Ministry of Economic Development.

The Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM) noted that the union had received reports of over 11,000 employees being forced to go on no-pay leaves.

The tourism ministry previously assured that resort management companies found to be acting in violation of the Employment Act (No. 2/2008) would be penalized.

Undersecretary at the President's Office Mabrouq Abdul Azeez reiterated the statement, asserting that the job centre portal would be utilized "to hold companies accountable" in an as-yet-undisclosed manner.

It is estimated that Maldives' heavily tourism reliant economy will face a shortfall of approximately USD 450 million (MVR 6.9 billion) in foreign currency as a result of the pandemic. In order to offset resulting financial impacts, the government introduced financial stimulus packages amounting to MVR 2.5 billion, intended to prevent the closure of local businesses and the loss of jobs.

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