Govt. decides against reopening guesthouses in August

A guesthouse located in suburban Hulhumale'. (File Photo/Sun)

Health Minister Abdulla Ameen announced on Saturday that the government has decided against reopening guesthouses and hotels in residential islands for international tourists in August as had been previously planned.

Ameen made the announcement at the virtual inauguration of COVID-19 management facilities in Addu City, Fuvahmulah City and H. A. Ihavandhoo on Saturday night.

He said that the government reviewed its earlier decision, and decided to postpone the reopening guesthouses for international tourists.

Ameen said the government will continue to implement coronavirus restrictions, but will make it a priority to ensure the restrictions cause as little disruption to public movement, business activities and transport as possible.

“But we will continue to take necessary action in light of the rate of the spread of the disease and current situation. As such, we do not plan to reopen guesthouses across Maldives in coming August,” he said.

Ameen said the government will review the situation and announce a date for guesthouse reopening in mid-August.

“Based on the current numbers or the epidemic trends, and the identification of cases in atolls, we expect to reopen guesthouses in early September,” he said.

Maldives reopened its borders for international travel after a near four-month lockdown on July 15. Resorts and hotels in non-residential islands have been reopened, but guesthouses and hotels in residential islands remain closed for international tourists to avoid more outbreaks in local communities.

Guesthouses are the primary source of income for many local communities. Guesthouses facing financial troubles amid the coronavirus pandemic have been allowed to defer utility bills to November, and to settle the unpaid utility bills in installments over a six-month period.

The decision to postpone the reopening of guesthouses in residential islands comes as Maldives faces a surge in coronavirus cases with the relaxation of lockdown measures.

Maldives has 3,252 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 77 new cases this Saturday. 2,534 patients have since recovered, while 15 have died from complications.

Active coronavirus cases in Maldives currently stand at 688.