After weeks of remaining hopeful of being moved up to the United Kingdom’s Travel Amber List, Maldives has been removed from the country’s Travel Red list.
According to Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport in UK, effective September 22, Maldives, alongside Turkey and Pakistan will be among eight countries removed from their Travel Red List.
The island nation was added to the list following a spike in Covid-19 cases as a fourth and more infectious wave of the virus was confirmed back in May.
Following removal, travelers from the Maldives will no longer be required to undergo a quarantine period of 10 days upon arrival.
Caron Rohsler, the British High Commissioner to Maldives revealed that this was the result of great effort from the Maldivian government and everyone involved, adding that this is a first step in opening up travel between the two countries, safely.
Maldives’ High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Farahanaz Faizal expressed gratitude to all those who raised its case on behalf of the Maldives. She had been repeatedly raising concerns over the UK government’s decision to leave Maldives on the red list, despite low case numbers and high vaccination rates.
She noted that the country has just begun regular Genome sequencing as well and questioned whether it came too late for the recent review. Health Protection Agency (HPA) had previously revealed that the reason Maldives is on UK's red list is because the country had not completed the Genomic Sequencing test required to move up the list.
As such, although there were hopes for the island nation to move up to Amber List as the Covid-19 situation across the nation improved and vaccination picked up, Maldives was exempt from the Green List updated and publicized by the UK government in late August.
UK has three lists -green, amber and red- and each country has its own rules for arriving holidaymakers.
Green lists are among three lists compiled by governments -red, amber and green- and lists rules for travel to the respective nation from other countries.
Farah earlier stated that there is no longer a valid reason for the Maldives to be included in the UK's red list, after the initial list came out on August 21. As such, she said that the international Covid-19 and other influenza virus database known as GISAID "has now been updated with Genome sequencing date as required by the UK". She went on to stress that the Maldives currently has low case numbers and high vaccination rates in comparison to other countries.
As the country aims to welcome 1.3 million visitors this year, being removed from the United Kingdom’s red list will be a major boost to Maldives tourism. UK is also among the top 10 tourism markets of the Maldives, with 17,784 arrivals having been recorded from UK so far this year.