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Maldives bans holidaymakers from South Asia

Maldives has placed in indefinite ban on tourists from India.

Maldives has announced that it is banning holidaymakers from South Asia indefinitely.

In a Twitter announcement earlier this week, Maldives Immigration said there would be a “temporary suspension for tourists and all other categories of visa holders originating from South Asian countries.” The ruling came into force yesterday and applies to arrivals from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as anyone who has transited through these countries in the past 14 days.

The High Commission for India in Maldives noted that the decision may affect flights between the two countries and that Indian tourists already in the Maldives should “make the necessary arrangements to return to India”.

The Maldives is currently battling a surge of new cases. On Wednesday it reported more than 1,500 infections, jump from around 100 new daily cases in April. Active cases increased from 4,979 to 11,629. Curfews have been imposed in certain regions. International concern has meant Maldives has also been placed on the United Kingdom’s ‘red list’, meaning direct flights and travellers from Maldives are banned from entering England.

Maldives was one of the first nations to open its borders last year, welcoming back all nationalities from July with no restrictions.

However, since then it has witnessed a surge in travellers from India, including a number of Bollywood celebrities attempting to escape the country’s Covid crisis this spring. According to Maldives Ministry of Tourism, between January and March, almost 70,000 Indians visited the country, double the number of Indian tourists who travelled there in 2020.

Just last month, Maldives was confident enough to announce it was planning to offer vaccinations to tourists on arrival, but by May new restrictions had been introduced. So far, around 25% of Maldivian residents have been fully vaccinated.

The ban leaves Indian nationals with few quarantine-free overseas options; Dubai has been another popular destination but imposed restrictions on travel from India last month. Seychelles has also imposed a ban on Indian holidaymakers.

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