The Maldives welcomes all tourists in July with risky open-border approach

Jun 10, 2020

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen countries all around the world implement a dizzying array of policies when it comes to reopening borders. And, even within each country, entry requirements continue to evolve — in some cases, changing from one week to the next — as we most recently observed with Iceland, which, after much deliberation, remains off-limits to Americans through June. I have yet to encounter a policy reversal as drastic as that of The Maldives, though.

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At the end of May, Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed outlined The Maldives’ plan for welcoming tourists back. While it would have almost certainly helped minimize the potential for a larger coronavirus outbreak, tourists would have been required to jump through a number of hoops — including mandatory extra fees and a minimum 14-night stay — in order to qualify for a visit.

Related: Maldives may reopen soon with a catch

Now, the country has entirely thrown its original proposal out the door, opting instead to open the border entirely on July 15, with no testing, quarantine or visa requirement.

Personally, I’m not eager to visit under the new open-border plan. COVID-19 remains a serious concern in many countries around the world, and without a testing requirement before departure or upon arrival, there’s nothing stopping infected tourists from entering the country and spreading the disease throughout isolated resorts.

Related: TPG guide to The Maldives

The geography of The Maldives serves to complicate the situation further, with many of the country’s resorts set on private islands accessible only by seaplane — ideal if you’re after isolation in paradise; less so if you end up in desperate need of medical care in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic.

The capital of Male has just two hospitals, with a plan to increase the total number of available ventilators to 200, from 97, according to reports. But getting access to those ventilators could prove problematic, if infected tourists even find a way to get from their island resort back to Male.

Even if you’re willing to take your chances with coronavirus, given the fact that The Maldives has reversed course with such a dramatic shift, I might wait until the country has a few weeks to work out any kinks before booking a trip.

Featured photo by Ryan Patterson for The Points Guy.

Related: Reopening Europe

Related: Reopening Country-by-country

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