Can Maldives Afford to Impose Lockdown Again?

Sinamale Bridge, Maldives

As the COVID-19 situation in the Maldives is reaching the heights, some of the public advocators as well as experts have been suggesting that Maldives should impose lockdown, yet again to contain the spread of the novel virus.

A local epidemiologist in Maldives, Sheena Moosa has also recently warned upon reflecting on the current situation of the disease in Maldives, the country is at a level to impose another full lockdown. She had also mentioned the Health Protection Agency (HPA) was aware of a possible spike in COVID cases after the ease in lockdown.

- Advertisement -

The epidemiologist was clear enough to convey to the audience, that the lockdown was eased with the hope that the public will abide by the rules and safety measures provided by the authorities. Sheena stressed that the increase is COVID-19 statistics in Maldives is due to the failure of the public in fully complying with the rules and measures taken.

If the lockdown had been imposed for a longer period, will the situation of the Maldivian Community in containing the virus been better? Now that it is eased, is the country ready to exercise another wave of a full lockdown?

Maldives has also recorded a spot in the list of countries which shows a significant drop in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). According to research by a visa waiver farm of America, ‘Esta’, Maldives ranks in the 5th place, among the countries which experienced a significant GDP fall, globally. This research shows that the GDP of Maldives has been decreased by 6.8%. The data for the research have been obtained from the World Bank and the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Experts suggest that the major reason for this fall is due to the challenges posed by the tourism sector of Maldives, during the past 4 months. During this time, the income generated from the sector has significantly decreased reducing the revenue of the country. During the first wave of lockdown, the tourism industry had suffered impactfully leaving its employees jobless and on no-pay leaves. This had been in turn creating chaos in the families of the struggling employees.

After a 4-month closure of the border, the country had again welcomed tourist visit on 15th July, but the unexpectedly less number of visits left the experts of the industry shook. The tourism industry perhaps is not the only industry that has been facing struggles.

Due to a recent prohibition of vehicles from 8 pm to 5 am, the owners of restaurants, cafés, and hotels have expressed their concern stating that rules that called for closing restaurants and businesses by 9 30 pm have already effected the businesses significantly. They had stressed that the prohibition of vehicles, will bring a bigger burden on the businesses.

The advocators have said that it is them who need to arrange the charge, bills, taxes and employee payroll and not the government. The public has pointed out fingers to the government’s inability to provide alternative methods for compensating the loss faced by the businessman. Following this, Restaurant Association of Maldives (RAM) ha stated that the company has been putting efforts into brainstorming possible solutions for the challenges posed by these businesses, with relevant authorities.

Similarly, the guesthouses operating in the Maldives have also run out of business due to the few guest travelers and the growing COVID-19 cases in Maldives. With regard to the issue, the Guesthouse Association of Maldives (GAM) has also been voicing the challenges on behalf of the Guesthouses operating in the Maldives. But with the current situation of Maldives both economically and socially, perhaps there is very little that can be done.

Has the Maldives Painted itself to a Corner With No Way Out?

In light of all the above concerns, it is fair to say that country might as well not revive to the normal unless the global COVID-19 situation does not heed. If the Maldives was to run the businesses the way it did back in 2019, the public shall as well adhere to the laws and safety measures made by the authorities. With the failure to adherence, Maldives is in a state of imposing another lockdown, which if suppose takes place, the country might bear a loss so huge, that revival might take several years. Not just the country, but also its citizens are slowly being left with no way out. So now as an individual and as a citizen, what is your idea of contributing to the country’s revival? Perhaps, it is the high time to think and act accordingly.

- Advertisement -