President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has announced the government's decision to relieve some of the lockdown measures imposed in Maldives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Capital Male’ has been on lockdown since April 15, and the duration of the lockdown has been extended thrice since then. The lockdown period is scheduled to end on May 28.
The president addressed the nation on Wednesday, and announced that the lockdown imposed on the Male' region will be lifted gradually over several phases. During the first phases, individuals’ movement restrictions will be lifted, and restrictions on business will be loosened. President added that restrictions on public gathering would be eased in another phase.
"Re-opening mosques for congregational prayers, reopening schools, cafés and restaurants will follow a certain procedure. Special preparations will be made for employees to return for work. Details of how the restrictions will be relieved will be provided by the relevant technical officials in the upcoming days”, said the president.
President Solih further said that when the lockdown is relieved, the testing capacity will be increased, and acilities and the necessary resources for treatment will be in place.
The president also announced plans to lift some of the restrictions imposed on the other islands of the Maldives.
“The first step is to relieve the restrictions imposed on the islands that are not affected by the virus. In such islands, congregational prayers will be allowed in the mosques, restrictions on the businesses will be lifted. After that, schools and offices will be re-opened”, said the president.
This gradual loosening of restrictions, he remarked, will occur in consultation with health authorities and will depend on the authorities’ confidence in the success of existing precautions. Further, the President emphasized that they are to be implemented in the context of a ‘new normal’ phase, in which individuals must continue to observe social distancing measures and strictly adhere to the advice of health authorities. He stressed that people should keep in mind that the gradual loosening of restrictions is not tantamount to the country becoming free of COVID-19, and that lowering caution could result in strict restrictive measures becoming necessary once again.
“Relieving restrictions does not mean that COVID-19 pandemic has been eliminated in the Maldives. And it should not be considered that the leeway is given because that there is no risk of the illness”, added President Solih.
The Maldives has recorded 1186 positive cases of COVID-19 thus far. While 91 recoveries and four fatalities have been recorded, a large majority of individuals contracting the illness in Maldives are migrant workers. Among the infected are 424 locals, 609 Bangladeshi nationals, 112 Indian nationals, 16 Nepali nationals, 6 Sri Lankan nationals, and 3 Pakistani nationals.