Restrictions in Maldivian capital extended by another week

Security forces enforce COVID-19 restrictions in Male' City on May 21, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The new restrictions implemented last May to curb a surge in COVID-19 cases in the Maldives have been extended by another week.

Maldives strengthened restrictions in the congested capital and other residential islands amid a devastating surge in COVID-19 cases on May 26. The restrictions, mainly focused on the capital, were due to expire later this Tuesday.

In a press conference on Tuesday evening, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said that it has been decided to extend the restrictions by another one week in order to further bring down the infection rate.

“We believe it necessary to further bring down the positivity rate in order to enter a new normal. With the advisement of the TAG [Technical Advisory Group] team, we believe we need to extend existing restrictions,” he said.

He said the government will consider lifting the restrictions after monitoring the numbers for another one week. He also thanked the people for their compliance with existing restrictions.

Existing restrictions:

  • 16:00-08:00 hours curfew, permit required to go out during non-curfew hours
  • Closure of mosques
  • Suspension of dine-in and takeaway services at cafes and restaurants
  • Closure of shops during curfew hours
  • Ban on non-essential domestic travel
  • 16:00-08:00 hours curfew in islands under monitoring
  • Closure of government offices

While daily infection rates, which stood above 1,000 in May, have now been cut by more than half, fatalities continue to be high.

Last May saw the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities in a single month, with 88 deaths. This June has seen 27 deaths.

President Solih admitted in a previous press conference that the surge in cases resulted from the ease in restrictions granted in April, ahead of the Local Council Elections.

The eases allowed in April included lifting domestic travel restrictions to allow voters to travel from Male’ to other residential islands to vote, resulting in the disease spreading outside the capital to multiple islands.