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HPA makes masks mandatory in islands reopening guesthouses

Shahudha Mohamed
13 October 2020, MVT 20:52
Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s Medical Officer Dr Nazla Rafeeq speaking at a press conference hosted by the Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC). PHOTO: HEOC
Shahudha Mohamed
13 October 2020, MVT 20:52

As guesthouses outside of the Greater Male' region gear up for their reopening on Thursday, the Health Protection Agency announced that wearing masks in public will be mandatory in islands where guesthouses resume operations.

Speaking at a press conference held by the Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC) on Monday, the centre's Spokesperson and Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s Medical Officer Dr Nazla Rafeeq stated that authorities will mandate residents, as well as tourists, to wear masks.

After a long period of closure as a preventive measure amidst the ongoing pandemic, the state decided on restarting the guesthouse business after assessing the current situation of the island nation.

Although guesthouses are set to reopen on October 15, the Ministry of Tourism asserted on numerous occasions that operations must be conducted in line with a set of strict regulations.

Only guesthouses that fit HPA's guidelines will be allowed to resume operations, after approval from the relevant island council.

The guidelines stipulate that each guesthouse must have a separate isolation area based on the bed capacity, for positive cases and contacts.

Moreover, flu clinics and a designated vehicle for transportation must be present on every island where guesthouse businesses restart.

As with numerous countries around the world, in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Maldives closed its air and sea borders to tourist arrivals from March 27 to July 15.

The restrictions on international travel left Maldives' heavily tourism reliant economy in an extremely vulnerable state. In mid-April, the World Bank projected that Maldives would be the worst-hit economy in the South Asian region due to the pandemic.

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