Unlocking the World

Traveling to the Maldives during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN Travel StaffUpdated 1st April 2021
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Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on April 1.
(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 basics

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

All visitors can travel to the Maldives at present, as long as they have proof of a negative Covid test. Cruise ships are currently banned, however. Thanks to these open doors, the Maldives was one of the rare travel successes of 2020, and it looks like that trend is continuing for 2021.
As of February 22 there are over 140 resorts and over 330 guesthouses open and serving international visitors.

What are the restrictions?

All arrivals other than Maldives citizens 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.
The result must 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.
Tourists 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.
Since the discovery of the new UK variant in late December, all travelers arriving from the UK, including transiting passengers, must undergo a 10-day quarantine.
All passengers leaving the airport on arrival will have a health check. Travelers returning to the United States will need to show proof of a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure in order to be allowed back into the country. Most resorts and guesthouses can facilitate these.

What's the Covid situation

The Maldives has reported a total of 24,079 coronavirus cases and 66 deaths as of April 1.
The country began its rollout of the India-made AstraZeneca COVISHIELD vaccine on February 1. Hospitality workers were included in the first round of citizens to get vaccinated. A total of 237,716 people in the Maldives had received their first dose of the vaccine by the end of March.
Dr. Abdulla Mausoom, the Maldivian Minister of Tourism, has said that the country is considering upscale "vaxication" vaccination packages for foreign visitors who want to visit and get inoculated.

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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Our recent coverage

Wondering what it's like to visit right now? Read this piece, which details the pandemic vacation experience. If you're planning your trip, check out our list of the best dining experiences. And meet the Maldives' "barefoot pilots." And if a travel bubble is what you want, you're in luck -- the Waldorf Astoria Maldives has just revealed its latest property, a Maldivian private island called Ithaafushi, available for a cool $80,000 a night.