fbpx

Information for Businesses

In the light of the present public health situation, here we bring together critical information with respect to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. This information is sourced from the relevant government authorities and private institutions, and includes vital information that may affect your business.

The Minister of Health has declared a State of Public Health Emergency for a period of 30 days from 12th March 2020. This period was extended till 30 May 2020, and is further extended till 29 June 2020. This is declared by the powers vested to the Minister under Section 33 of the Public Health Act (Law Number 7/2012).

For the latest updates and health information on the developing situation, you should visit the Ministry of Health’s official COVID-19 website.

Important updates

  • 29 May 2020: The Attorney General’s Office announced that a Public Health Emergency Bill was submitted to the People’s Majlis.
  • 27 May 2020: Minister of Health has extended the State of Public Health Emergency period till 29 June 2020.
  • 17 April 2020HPA announces that effective from 17 April, 4:00pm, travel between all islands is prohibited, except in cases of necessity.
  • 27 March 2020: On-arrival visas to all passengers arriving in Maldives by air and sea suspended.

This section is updated as new information is available. Last updated 14 May 2020, 10:18am.

Public Services

State Institutions

The government offices are to be open till 18 June 2020 to carry out works absolutely necessary at this juncture. The offices will only be open from 9:00am to 1:00pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Although government offices are closed, some services can be obtained via special arrangements. These include:

  • Ministry of Economic Development announces that business registration and other related services will resume from 10 May. The applications can be submitted via business.egov.mv or [email protected]
  • Ministry of Economic Development announces that certain additional services will now be provided by MED online. The MED also will also be reachable via live chat everyday  (except Fridays) from 9 am to 1pm.
  • Certain services of the Ministry of Economic Development are provided online. Relevant email addresses of the Ministry can be found here.
  • Applications for Employment Approval and Extension of Quota can be made between 10am and 12pm during weekdays via the Expat Online System.

Schools and Colleges

Schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions were closed on 14 March 2020, and will remain closed until 28 May 2020.

Banks

The Maldives Monetary Authority and banks will be open on 13th, 14th and 16th April 2020 (from 9:30am till 12:30pm). Read more here.

Courts

Following the closure of the government, the Department of Judicial Administration has issued a circular with instructions to the courts on providing the services to the public. The courts will remain closed during this period.

The Civil Court, High Court and the Supreme Court have made announcements how submissions to the courts during this period can be made. The contact numbers are given below:

  • Civil Court 7443369, 7443281 and 9666650
  • High Court 7902206
  • Supreme Court 3007349 (Administrative), 3007318 (Judicial).
  • 19 April 2020The High Court announces that sinceMale’ is now on Red Alert, the High Court will only have hearings on Remand Cases and with respect to  orders that are absolutely necessary (including those on Domestic Violence).
  • 8 April 2020The Supreme Court temporarily suspends  chapter 6 of the Criminal Procedure Regulation on Court Proceedings and commences the implementation of the Special Regulation on Conducting Court Proceedings through Video Conference. This Regulation addresses how criminal proceedings are to be conducted during the time of State of Public Health Emergency.
  • 18 March 2020: The Department of Judicial Administration on 18 March 2020 has announced eased procedures to make payment to the courts regarding any judgment debt.

Tourism Industry Specific Matters

For Tourists

  • 27 March 2020: On-arrival visas to all tourists arriving to Maldives are suspended from 27 March, 00:00 hrs.
  • 27 March 2020: Any foreigner whose visa expires during the government holidays shall apply for renewal / extension of visa within 10 working days after the government resumes work.
  • 25 March 2020: Temporary suspension on issuing on-arrival visa for all passengers arriving to Maldives by air and sea, except for individuals with special permission granted by the government, effective from 0000hrs of 27th March 2020.
  • 21 March 2020: Except for tourists coming to tourist resorts (guesthouses are not allowed to check-in tourists now), all other passengers arriving to the Maldives by air will be required to undergo a 14 day mandatory quarantine at a facility designated by the government.
  • 18 March 2020: (a) All Maldivians arriving to Maldives from USA will be required to undergo a 14 day mandatory quarantine period at a facility designated by the government, and (b) all Maldivians arriving to the Maldives from those countries and regions other than where a ban on travel to Maldives had already been directed, will be required to undergo 14 day mandatory home isolation period.
  • 13 March 2020: Ban on use of all public parks and grounds in Male’, Hulhumale’ and Villimale’ area until further notice.

For Tourist Resorts, Hotels, Guesthouses and Liveaboards

  • 10 April 2020HPA issues Guidance Document on How to Apply for Release from Resorts or Safaris. List of resorts and safaris granted release is available here.
  • 9 April 2020HPA announces some relief on restrictive measures on movements between resorts,safari boats and other islands.
  • 30 March 2020: HPA  announces further details on the restrictive measures on  movements between resorts,safari boats and other islands.
  • 27 March 2020: The restriction imposed on movement of tourists from one resort  to another has been eased, subject to strict conditions.
  • 25 March 2020: Indefinite extension of the ban stated in the notice issued on 18 March 2020. Additionally, the ban is not applicable to (a) employees going back to resorts to commence work and (b) those employees leaving the resort after 14 days from the date of the last tourist departing the resort – resorts are required to inform HPA of the date on which the last tourist departs the resort.
  • 22 March 2020: Extension on ban of all tourism excursion activities from islands, tourist resorts and tourist safaris’ throughout the country until further notice.
  • 19 March 2020: Ban on (a) all yachts, safaris and other similar vessels from coming to the Maldives and (b) berthing to any island in the Maldives effective from 1200 hrs of 19 March 2020 until further notice.
  • 18 March 2020: All transportations from (a) resorts to local islands and vice versa and (b) from one resort to another is to be suspended for a 10 day period commencing from 2100 hrs of 18 March 2020. However, (a) transfer of tourists to airports, (b) employees accompanying such tourists to airport (these employes would need to come back to the resort and records of this should be maintained) and (c) suppliers of goods to resorts, who supplies the goods upto the jetty, are excluded from the directive.
  • 17 March 2020: All Guesthouses and City Hotels in the country are required to suspend all check-ins for a 14 day period commencing from 17 March 2020 – not applicable to those already checked in.
  • 14 March 2020: All Guesthouses and City Hotels in Male’, Hulhumale’ and Villimale’ are required to suspend all check-ins for a 14 day period commencing from 15 March 2020 – not applicable to those already checked in.
  • 13 March 2020: Suspension of all excursion activities in Greater Male’ Area (Male’, Hulhumale’ and Villimale).
  • 13 March 2020: Banning of all tourism excursion activities from islands, tourist resorts and tourist safaris throughout the country for a period of 10 days.

Travel & Internal Movements

International

  • 21 May 2020: Maldives Immigration announced that fines will not be imposed on Visa’s expiring between 19 March and 30 June 2020.
  • 27 March 2020: On-arrival visas to tourists arriving to Maldives stopped from 27 March, 00:00 hrs
  • 22 March 2020: Mandatory quarantine at a government designated facility for everyone arriving to Maldives other than tourists coming to resorts (supersedes the Notice of 21 March 2020)
  • 21 March 2020: Mandatory quarantine at a government designated facility for everyone arriving to Maldives other than tourists
  • 19 March 2020: Ban on (a) all yachts, safaris and other similar vessels from coming to the Maldives and (b) berthing at any island in the Maldives effective from 1200 hrs of 19 March 2020 until further notice.
  • 18 March 2020: All transportations from (a) resorts to local islands and vice versa and (b) from one resort to another is to be suspended for a 10 day period commencing from 2100 hrs of 18 March 2020. However, (a) transfer of tourists to airports, (b) employees accompanying such tourists to airport (these employees would need to come back to the resort and records of this should be maintained) and (c) suppliers of goods to resorts, who supplies the goods upto the jetty, are excluded from the directive.


Domestic

  • 11 June 2020: The Director-General of Public Health extended the lockdown imposed on the greater Male’ area until 14 June 2020. Further, travel restriction implemented is also maintained within the city area.
  • 29 May 2020The Government announced measures to ease the lockdown, implementing them in phases, the first of which begins on 29 May 2020.
  • 14 May 2020: HPA announces that the lockdown of Male’, Hulhumale’ and Vilimale’ has been extended until 28 May 2020. Further, travelling to/from Male’, Hulhumale’, Vilimale’, Gulhifalhu is also prohibited during this period.
  • 29 April 2020: HPA announces that the lockdown of Male’, Hulhumale’ and Vilimale’ has been extended for an additional 14 days. Further, travelling to/from Male’, Hulhumale’, Vilimale’, Gulhifalhu is also prohibited during this period.
  • 17 April 2020: HPA announces that Male’, Hulhumale’ and Vilimale’ will be in lockdown for the next 14 days. Further, travelling to/from Male’, Hulhumale’, Vilimale’, Gulhifalhu is also prohibited during this 24 hours.
  • 17 April 2020HPA announces that effective from 17th April, 4:00pm, travel between all islands is prohibited, except in cases of necessity.
  • 15 April 2020: HPA announces that Male’, Hulhumale’ and Vilimale’ will be in lockdown for the next 24 hours. Further, travelling to/from Male’, Hulhumale’, Vilimale’, Gulhifalhu is also prohibited during this 24 hours.
  • 9 April 2020HPA announces that the curfew has been lifted from 5pm of 9 April 2020. It is also announced that the suspension of public transportation services have also been ceased.
  • 1 April 2020: Male’, Vilimale’ and Hulhumale’ are under curfew everyday between 5pm and 8pm from 12 pm of 2 April  2020.. All forms of public transportation will also be suspended during this period. The Order also restricts people to  gather in groups of more than three, at all other times.
  • 30 March 2020: HPA  announces further details on the restrictive measures on  movements between resorts,safari boats and other islands.
  • 27 March 2020: The restriction imposed on movement of tourists from one resort  to another has been eased, subject to strict conditions.
  • 25 March 2020: Indefinite extension of the ban stated in the notice issued on 18 March 2020. Additionally, the ban is not applicable to (a) employees going back to resorts to commence work and (b) those employees leaving the resort after 14 days from the date of the last tourist departing the resort – resorts are required to inform HPA of the date on which the last tourist departs the resort.
  • 22 March 2020: Extension on ban of all tourism excursion activities from islands, tourist resorts and tourist safaris’ throughout the country until further notice.
  • 18 March 2020: All transportations from (a) resorts to local islands and vice versa and (b) from one resort to another is to be suspended for a 10 day period commencing from 2100 hrs of 18 March 2020. However, (a) transfer of tourists to airports, (b) employees accompanying such tourists to airport (these employes would need to come back to the resort and records of this should be maintained) and (c) suppliers of goods to resorts, who supplies the goods upto the jetty, are excluded from the directive.
  • 14 March 2020: All Guesthouses and City Hotels in Male’, Hulhumale’ and Villimale’ are required to suspend all check-ins for a 14 day period commencing from 15 March 2020 – not applicable to those already checked in.
  • 13 March 2020: Suspension of all excursion activities in Greater Male’ Area (Male’, Hulhumale’ and Villimale).
  • 13 March 2020: Banning of all tourism excursion activities from islands, tourist resorts and tourist safari’s throughout the country for a period of 10 days.

Employment Issues

The Government of Maldives  has put in place a number of measures to protect the employees and the interest of the employers as some businesses  are forced to suspend or scale down their operations due to the pandemic.

Advisories & Instructions by Regulatory Authorities

    • 6 April 2020: HPA has published Workplace Health and Safety Guidelines adapted from WHO and the CDC to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures set out in the guideline are to be followed by both employees and employers.
    • 29 March 2020: Labour Relations Authority has requested to communicate any decisions which might impact the employment status of the employees, with them before taking such decisions.

Impacted Employees

The President’s Office has published the detailed Policy on making Income Support Allowance for employees and self-employed who are impacted by the COVID19. The Policy specifies the mechanism and details the eligibility criteria for making the monthly payments whose employment is terminated or salaries and allowances are reduced.

MED requests the employees affected by the current situation to report to the Ministry via their job portal, Job Center. You can access the website of Job Center here.

The matters you can report are instances of:

      • Employment dismissal;
      • Adverse variations to the salary and allowances; and
      • Any other such variations brought to the employment understanding between the employer and employee due to COVID-19;

Employees are also advised to submit any documents provided by the employer informing of such variation or dismissal to the reporting module. You can get more information on this here.

Expatriates

The MED now requires Special Permits from expat employees returning to work. More information can be accessed here.

Employment approval

      • Employees returning from leave and employees entering the Maldives for the first time under Employment Approval after 23:59 hrs of 21 March 2020, can only enter the Maldives after obtaining a special permit from the Ministry of Economic Development. You can reach Maldives Immigration on 9555222.
      • Employers are required to submit an application form requesting for a special permit to enter Maldives under Employment Approval, 48 hours prior to the employee’s arrival.
      • Employers are also required to agree to isolation/quarantine of the employee and bear the expenses of isolation/quarantine of the employee upon arrival of the employee under the special permit.
      • Employees without the Special Permit would not be allowed entry and repatriated to their country of origin by the Immigration of Maldives.

Handover of Passports

    • 22 March 2020: Maldives Immigration decides to handover all passports of foreigners held with them to their respective owners. You may contact 7980408 via Viber for further inquiries regarding this issue.

Taxes and Fees

Deferment of Taxes and Special Arrangements

  • 20 May 2020: The President in his speech remarked that resorts and agricultural islands will be granted a rent deferral for the remaining six months (July-December) of the year.
  • 25 March 2020: To ease difficulties faced by taxpayers, the MIRA has announced that special instalment arrangements are available to pay outstanding taxes. However, this does not apply for non-tax payments such as tourism land rent. Applications are accepted under this arrangement upto 30 June 2020. Details of payment options available as per the announcement can be found here.
  • No extensions to the deadlines for filing any tax returns announced as of now and hence taxpayers are to continue filing their tax returns as per the current deadlines.

Deadlines

  • 15 May 2020MIRA has announced that the MIRA will remain closed till the current lockdown period ends (that is, until 28 May 2020). Furthermore, it is announced that as all deadlines falling within this lockdown period would fall on the date on which MIRA reopens, special arrangements (which will be announced later) will be made so that all such deadlines do not fall on the same date.
  • 27 April 2020: MIRA has announced deadlines falling within the lockdown period will be extended to the date on which MIRA reopens. MIRA will be announcing the date of reopening.

Updates on Income Tax

  • The deadline for registering employees for income tax remains unchanged (the deadline is 31 March 2020).
  • Income tax on employment income commences on 1 April 2020 as planned.

Others

  • You can submit an MRTGS request to the bank if any payment is to be made to the MIRA. The Bank of Maldives has made arrangements to process such MRTGS payment requests via email.

Economic Recovery Plan

‘MVR 2.5 Billion Economic Recovery Package’

The government of Maldives has announced an Economic Recovery Package in response to COVID-19, to minimise the impact on the individuals and businesses. These  include:

  • Arrangements to provide relief for loans taken from banks, and secure working capital funding for businesses.
  • Subsidize 40% from electricity bills for the month of April and May.
  • Subsidize 30% from water bills for the month of April and May.
  • Principal and interest amount of loan repayments to BML to be deferred by 6 months to businesses and people who have been negatively impacted as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • To reduce the oil price sold by the State Trading Organisation.

The Ministry of Finance announced the details of the Economic Recovery Package on 7 April 2020.

Further, Maldives Ports Limited announced below concessions:

  • 20% discount on demurrage charges on the goods cleared from Male’ Commercial Harbour and Hulhumale’ Terminal.
  • Increase the free-storage period by 2 days, totalling to 12.
  • Increase in instalment period by 2 months under demurrage settlement instalment agreements.
  • 50% discount on demurrage charges on the goods cleared from Kulhudhuffushi Port and Hithadhoo Port50% discount on bonded warehouse license fee.

Financing and Special Reliefs

Bank of Maldives

  • The Bank of Maldives has published the criteria and conditions to be met by resorts and businesses with an annual turnover over 10 million, that want to apply for loan facilities.
  • The Bank of Maldives offers short term financing solutions of up to USD 2 million, to operational resorts and guest houses to manage their working capital requirements. More details can be found here.
  • The Bank of Maldives has introduced an unsecured business financing facility which allows businesses to finance up to 20% of the past 3 years’ average annual sales, up to a maximum amount of MVR 3 million with a repayment period up to 3 years. The facility can be availed as a Demand Loan or as a credit line limit in the form of Overdrafts, Bank Guarantee, Letters of Credit and Trust Receipt Demand Loans. More details can be found here.
  • The Bank of Maldives has offered Moratorium for all its Customers with Personal, Housing or Business Loans, which allows a deferment of monthly principal and interest repayments for 6 months to help individuals and businesses. At the same time the tenor of the loan will also be extended by 6 months allowing more time to repay the accrued interest and principal repayments. Following the moratorium of 6 months, the repayment amount would be reduced by 20% for a further 6 months. More details can be found hereThe Bank of Maldives has issued further clarification on their loan repayment deferment program. According to the clarification, the bank will not be charging compound interest on the deferment period. However, the interest on the deferred payments will be accrued and added to the loan balance and can be divided equally among the remaining instalments of the loan.

Housing Development Finance Corporation

  • The Housing Development Finance Corporation offers Moratorium for its customers with Islamic Window facilities and HDFC Amna facilities which allows a deferment of monthly payments with respect to these facilities for 6 months. At the same time, the tenor of the loan will also be extended by 6 months allowing more time to repay the amounts. More details can be found here.

Maldives Islamic Bank

  • Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB) has opened up the application process for its customers seeking support. MIB has announced that their Business Team will get in touch with the applicants to find a workable solution based on an internal assessment.

Housing Development Corporation

  • The deadline to apply for the 30% deferment on two months’ rent offered by HDC has been extended. Individuals are required to apply 15th May should they want the deferment on May month’s rent. Arrangements have been put in place for all payments to the Corporation to be made online. Read more here.
  • 20% of the instalment/rent payable to Housing Development Corporation (HDC) for April and May 2020 has been postponed for a period of not more than 12 months, which would be agreed to between the applicant and HDC.

Others

Following measures are taken by the Maldives Monetary Authority in order to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 on the financial system and exchange rate stability (details can be accessed here):

  • Reduction of the Minimum Reserve Requirement (MRR) up to 5% to provide liquidity support to banks, as and when needed
  • Make available a short-term credit facility to financial institutions as and when required
  • Increase in the MMA’s foreign exchange intervention and use other available facilities to maintain the exchange rate peg
  • Obtain a foreign currency swap facility amounting to USD 150 million under the currency swap agreement signed between the MMA and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)

Other Government Measures

  • 4 April 2020: The Ministry of Economic Development imposes price control on certain staple goods, beginning 6 April 2020 onwards. Enterprises that sell the goods at a rate higher than the price ceiling will be fined an amount not exceeding MVR 100,000. Repeat offenders may have their business permit suspended for a period not exceeding 6 months.
  • 1 April 2020: HPA restricts the working hours for Shops, takeaway services and construction works in Male’, Hulhumale and Villingili.

Commercial Contracts

The threat of coronavirus disease, COVID-19, on supply chains, international trade and transport is causing businesses to consider their current and future contractual agreements with suppliers and customers. Given such resultant disruptions to businesses and economic uncertainties caused by the outbreak, parties may seek to discharge or suspend their contractual obligations by exploring various avenues.

Force majeure

Please see our COVID-19 Special Edition Focus “COVID-19 – A Reason to Discharge Contractual Obligations?” for more details on how to rely on force majeure clauses.

Special Publications

Read our special publications related to COVID-19, on various topics on how the developing situation may have an impact on you.

Overview of the Public Health Emergency Bill 2020

This publication gives an overview of the Public Health Emergency Bill 2020 submitted to the People’s Majlis on 29 May 2020.

COVID-19: A Reason to Discharge Contractual Obligations?

Looks at how a person may discharging contractual obligations in the situation.

Workforce Restructuring

Probes into the aspects to be taken into consideration by employers in managing the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Getting in Touch

If you need our assistance with respect to any matter arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please get in touch with one of the members of our COVID-19 Response Team to talk through how we can support you.

Nazahath Ahmed

Associate

Nazahath’s principal area of practice is litigation and dispute resolutions.

[email protected]

Aminath Zaina Zahir

Associate

Zaina specialises in tax aspects of domestic and cross-border transactions.

[email protected]

Mariyam Naufa

Associate

Naufa primarily counsels clients on contractual and other complex legal matters.

[email protected]

Rafa Rasheed

Associate

Rafa specialises in handling corporate and employment matters.

[email protected]