Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you're fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on February 16.
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to the Maldives here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Maldives reopened borders to all travelers from all countries on July 15, 2020. The primary exception to this is the tightly packed capital city of Malé, which is off-limits to visitors as it has been the source of the majority of the country's coronavirus cases.
What's on offer
This is the couples' destination to end all others -- luxury hotels set on private islands, with rooms cantilevered over the water, just in case a walk to the beach is too much effort.
Who can go
At present, the Maldives is open to visitors from all countries as long as they have proof of a negative Covid test taken no more than four days prior to their arrival. A previous ban on
In early 2021, the destination launched a loyalty program that rewards regular visitors with points based on the frequency and duration of their trips. Those who rack up lots of points will be bumped up to various elite status levels that offer advantages including hotel discounts.
What are the restrictions?
All visitors must present a certificate of a negative PCR test carried out within the 96 hours prior to departure, clearly showing the name and address of the laboratory, as well as the date of the sample taken, regardless of their vaccination status.
The result needs to be attached to the Traveler Health Declaration form, which must be submitted online within the 24 hours prior to arrival. Visitors are asked to download the national contact tracing app, TraceEkee, and use it during their journey.
These restrictions were temporarily dropped for fully vaccinated travelers earlier in the year, but have since been reintroduced.
All non-tourist arrivals from the UK, including transiting passengers, must undergo a quarantine of either seven days for those who are vaccinated, or 14 days for non-vaccinated travelers.
However, these requirements do not apply to tourists.
Visitors are allowed to split stays between hotels. However, if you spend more than 48 hours in the Greater Malé area, you must take another PCR test before moving elsewhere.
Those who are not fully vaccinated are permitted to stay in guest accommodation in local islands provided that 60% of the population, including 90% of over-65s and 95% of tourism staff, are fully vaccinated.
What's the Covid situation?
The Maldives has reported over 161,000 coronavirus cases and 289 deaths as of February 16.
While the figures have remained relatively low for the most part, Covid-19 cases jumped to a record high in January due to the emergence of the Omicron variant, with a record 18,665 confirmed cases in one week.
The numbers have since decreased, with 7,698 cases reported on the week leading up to February 16.
More than 875,000 vaccination doses have been administered so far, with just under 79% of the population fully vaccinated as of February 16, according to John Hopkins University.
What can visitors expect?
The Maldives are selling themselves as a destination offering a "normal" vacation, thanks to the isolation of most hotels and the fact that the vast majority of visitors stay in-resort rather than venture out.
This means that while locals are subject to restrictions, those going to and from the airport are exempt. Split stays between different hotels are allowed, if the hotels meet government requirements. Requests for split stays must be made to the Ministry of Tourism at least 48 hours before travel.
Expect also for your resort to have some rules -- especially a temperature check on arrival, and masks to be worn indoors. As most items in shops must be shipped to the Maldives, some things can get pricey -- you should bring things like masks and hand sanitizer with you to avoid spending while on the island chain.
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