The British High Commission in Maldives, on Saturday, revealed that Maldives was excluded from the list of 67 countries exempted from the United Kingdom (UK)'s Global Travel Advisory, which cautions British citizens against non-essential travel.
Although Maldives was not noted on the exemption list or included among the countries scheduled to receive leniencies concerning border restrictions from July 10 onwards, the British Embassy acknowledged the Maldivian government's "tremendous" efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the UK government recognized Maldives' status as one of the top five long-haul holiday destinations for British tourists as well as the crucial contribution of tourism to the Maldivian economy.
Expressing hopes of increasing the number of exempted countries, the High Commission stressed that the initial list was part of a gradual process to reopen global travel routes and lift border restrictions.
The statement disclosed that the criteria for travel exemptions included the prevalence of COVID-19, entry requirements, internal restrictions, availability of transport, quarantine requirements and national healthcare capacity.
"I hope that Maldives will soon meet the UK's conditions required for an easing of travel advice and border measures, and am grateful to the (Maldivian) government for providing high quality and detailed information on the situation", stated the British High Commissioner to Maldives.
In addition to the UK, the European Union (EU) also excluded Maldives from the list of countries permitted to travel to the EU, following their temporary lifting of restrictions on non-essential travel.
Maldives presently has a total of 2,435 confirmed and 390 active cases of COVID-19. Thus far, the country records 2,030 recoveries and 10 deaths.
As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Maldives' capital Malé recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the first weeks following the first confirmed local transmission on April 15. However, the number of recoveries have continued to rise, with roughly 82 percent of patients now recovered.
In response, the Maldivian government initiated efforts to steer the country towards a 'new normal' with the phased easing of lockdown restrictions across the Greater Male' Region. The inter-island travel ban has also been lifted while the authorities prepare to reopen Maldives' borders in July to restart tourism and kickstart the economy.
On March 12, WHO classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. To date, the new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 11.2 million people and claimed over 530,800 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 6.3 million people have recovered.