Govt. offices, cafes, restaurants to reopen on Wednesday

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at a press conference on June 23, 2020. (Photo/President's Office)

Maldives is set to dismantle the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) established to coordinate the national response to the coronavirus pandemic, and enter a new phase, which will see the reopening of government offices and businesses including shops, cafes and restaurants under ‘new normal’ guidelines on Wednesday.

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih made the announcement in a tweet on Tuesday morning.

“On 1st July 2020 the National Emergency Operations Centre shall cease its operations managing the Maldives’ Covid 19 response. Under new normal rules, government offices will reopen and businesses including shops, cafes, and restaurants can start operations from tomorrow onwards,” said the President.

He thanked all frontline workers, including all health professionals, governmental agencies and volunteers for their contribution.

“Also, my gratitude to all those who worked on the frontlines- the healthcare professionals and various government agencies  and volunteers- who went beyond the call of duty to successfully manage this pandemic and avert worst case projections. My heartfelt thanks to everyone,” said the President.

NEOC represents the largest multi-sectorial government operations center ever established in the Maldives, underscoring the unprecedented challenges faced by the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The President had announced the decision to dismantle NEOC and transfer its main responsibilities to the Health Ministry in a visit to the NEOC headquarters in Dharubaaruge on Monday evening.

Maldives will move to a new phase in the combat against the spread of the new coronavirus in July, he announced.

The President said that moving to this new phase is part of the government’s overall strategy to steer the country towards a 'new normal'.

“Support and hard work of everyone will still be crucial in this new stage in order to successfully put the pandemic behind us,” he said.

Maldives identified its first coronavirus case on March 7, and declared a state of public health emergency over the pandemic four days later on March 11. Cafes and restaurants in the capital have been closed for dine-in services since March 22.

While coronavirus cases had initially been restricted to resorts and safaris, and later quarantine facilities holding inbound travelers, Male’ City identified its first coronavirus case on April 15, prompting a city-wide lockdown and a nationwide ban on nonessential travel.

The populous capital quickly emerged as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Maldives, contributing to over 90 percent of total cases.

Maldives has confirmed 2,336 coronavirus cases, out of whom 1,927 have recovered and eight have died from complications.

35 percent of the 2,336 coronavirus cases in the country are Maldivians, while the remaining 65 percent are foreign nationals. 1,219 people – making for 52 percent of total coronavirus cases – are Bangladeshis. The rest of the coronavirus cases include 820 Maldivians, 214 Indians, 43 Nepalese, and 17 Sri Lankans and 11 Italians.

Maldives began relaxing its lockdown following a drop in daily infections in the end of May.

The number of active cases presently stands at 396, and the recovery rate stands at 82 percent.