Maldives extends negative PCR test validity time for tourist arrivals to 96 hours

Passengers disembark from a Qatar Airways flight on July 15, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Health Protection Agency (HPA) has extended the validity period for negative COVID-19 PCR tests required of tourists who visit Maldives to within 96 hours prior to departure to the country.

Maldives mandated negative PCR test results for tourist arrivals back in September.

While tourists were previously required to produce proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken maximum 72 hours prior to departure from their original destination; HPA has now eased the validity period for tests to maximum 96 hours prior to departure from original destination.

The decision was announced by Tourism Ministry via its official Twitter account on Tuesday night.

Maldives reopened its borders after a near four-month lockdown on July 15, allowing for resorts and safari vessels to reopen, while keeping hotels and guesthouses located in residential islands closed to international tourists.

According to the Tourism Ministry, it has authorized over 223 tourist establishments to resume operations since the reopening of borders. The resorts, hotels and safari vessels which have reopened have approximately 24,000 operational tourist beds between them.

The decision to extend the validity time for COVID-19 PCR tests required of tourist arrivals comes with Maldives set to begin reopening guesthouses located in residential islands outside of the greater Male’ region on Thursday, October 15.

Guesthouses, as well as the islands where guesthouses are located are required to meet prerequisites set forth by HPA before they can be allowed to reopen, including formulating a COVID-19 safe plan.

Meanwhile, guesthouses located in the greater Male’ region remain closed in light of the community transmission in the region. According to HPA, the guesthouses in the region will remain closed until epidemic trends improve and sample positivity rate of less than 5 percent is maintained for a period of minimum 28 days.

Maldives has more than 10,000 tourist beds in guesthouses across 86 islands, and 10 percent of tourist arrivals to Maldives stay in guesthouses.

The island nation has been recording a steady increase in tourist arrivals since it reopened its borders, with 1,752 arrivals in July, 7,628 arrivals in August, and 9,538 arrivals in September. 3,140 tourist arrivals have been recorded within the first five days on this October, and the numbers are expected to further improve once guesthouses reopen.