Male' City Council, on Wednesday, stated that actions would be taken to prevent individuals from sleeping and eating in public areas such as mosques and parks.
According to the city council, efforts to address the issue of homelessness are currently underway in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services, NGOs and relevant state institutions.
The city council highlighted that living in public areas of Male' was previously prohibited as well.
The council went on to encourage participation in the gender ministry's ongoing programme to guarantee human rights for homeless individuals through the provision of basic neccesities such as food, clothing and shelter, as well as conduct necessary assessments.
As per the gender ministry, issues regarding homeless people inhabiting public areas can be reported to the hotline 1421.
The announcement of penalties for the homeless has prompted given criticism from several members of the public, on the grounds that the move seems incompassionate, given that shelters have only just been established.
Restrictions on local and global travel and tourism as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic had severe repercussions on the Maldivian economy, with many losing their jobs and local companies struggling to stay afloat.
On Monday, announced its intention to establish a shelter for homeless individuals on Gulhifalhu, Kaafu Atoll.
Authorities stated that that any individuals identified with a drug addiction during the relocation process would be sent to the temporary detox camp in Farukolhufushi.
In addition to endeavours to offer shelter to homeless individuals, the government also introduced an Income Support Allowance policy to provide a temporary monthly allowance of up to MVR 5,000, to individuals that lost their employment or income amid the pandemic.
According to the gender ministry, 31 percent of homeless people that requested government assistance as of April were identified as being addicted to drugs. As with most parts of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately impact vulnerable groups such as drug addicts, women and children as per various official sources.
During mid-April, the World Bank estimated that Maldives will be the worst-hit country in the South Asian region, in the ensuing economic regression caused by the pandemic.
In a bid to counteract the financial impact of COVID-19, the Maldives government introduced an economic relief fund with MVR 2.5 billion intended to prevent the closing down of local businesses and the loss of jobs.
Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry projected earlier that the state deficit would reach MVR 13 billion this year compared to the MVR 5.9 billion originally stated in the 2020 State Budget, as a result of economic repercussions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ministry also projected that the total state debt sans guarantee would increase to MVR 70 billion, which accounts for 86.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). An overall 115 percent drop is projected in the GDP, along with 81.3 percent for nominal GDP.