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Resource Center

COVID-19:

Information for Businesses

In the light of the current public health situation, here we bring together critical information with respect to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. Information for this page is sourced from the relevant government authorities and includes publications, insights and many other vital information that may be of importance.
 

The Minister of Health declared a State of Public Health Emergency for a period of 30 days from 12th March 2020. This period has now been extended until 5 November 2020. The Minister is declared the State of Public Health Emergency by the powers vested in him 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. Read our overview of the Bill here.
  • 6 October 2020: Minister of Health has extended the State of Public Health Emergency period till 5 November 2020.

What We Cover

This page covers information and developments related to COVID-19 with regard to:

Public Services

State Institutions

Government offices are now open from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm from Sunday to Thursday.

 
Schools and Colleges

Schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions were closed on 14 March 2020. Schools have been open for all secondary school students from 1 July 2020, with certain conditions.

 
Banks

Banks and financial institutions now operate on regular business hours from Sunday to Thursday, with safety measures and precautions in place.

The Maldives Monetary Authority is open from 8:30 am 2:00 pm from Sunday to Thursday. More details are available here.

 
Courts

Following the closure of the Government, the Department of Judicial Administration has issued a circular with instructions to the courts on providing court services to the public. Courts of all levels continue to have remote hearings and arrangements are in place to file cases online.

Tourism Industry Specific Matters

Maldives Re-opening

  • 15 July 2020: Maldives opened its borders on 15 July 2020. Tourists are given on-arrival visa without restrictions.
  • 27 March 2020: Tourist hotels and resorts are to welcome tourists in accordance with the Guidelines published by the Ministry of Tourism. You can access the Guidelines here and our Overview of the Guidelines here.
  • 25 March 2020: Guesthouses are to remain closed until further notice by the Ministry of Tourism. Guesthouses are expected to re-open from 1 August 2020, as per the current Guidelines.
  • 21 March 2020: Safari and liveaboard boats are not allowed to operate as of yet and this is expected to …

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 have been 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 taken by employers which might impact the employment status of the employees, with the Authority before implementing such decisions.

 
Impacted Employees

  • The Ministry of Economic Development has commenced releasing payments to individual impacted employees under the Income Support Allowance Scheme.
  • The President’s Office has published the detailed Policy on releasing payments under the Income Support Allowance for employees and self-employed individuals that 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 deducted owing to COVID-19 related reasons.

Informing the Ministry of Economic Development

The Ministry requests the employees affected by the current situation to report to the Ministry via their job portal, Job Center. You can access the 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 arrangement between the employer and employee.

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

 
Workforce Restructuring

Employers need to be wary of the rights of the employees when laying off employees, making employees redundant or any other measure that affects employees, put in place to cut cost. One of the biggest challenges for the employers would be to ensure that the rights of employees are protected while measures are implemented within the ambit of the law.

Our Guide on Workforce Restructuring will answer some important questions employers would come across in a situation like this and will help to implement appropriate measures within the boundaries of the law.
 
Frequently Asked Questions

Here we provide answers to some of the important Frequently Asked Questions on the rights employees may have in dire situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic situation. Read the FAQs here.

Taxes and Fees

Special Arrangements

  • 20 May 2020: The President in his speech announced 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. Applications are accepted under this arrangement up to 30 June 2020. Details of payment options available as per the announcement can be found here. Notably, the same arrangement does not apply for non-tax payments such as tourism land rent.

 
Deferment of Tax Deadlines

  • 15 June 2020: The MIRA has made an announcement with respect to the commencement of services from the Taxpayer Service Centre and published the new deadlines for filing tax returns and payment of taxes, fees and other payments to the MIRA.
    • BPT Deadline
  • You can read our detailed publication on the extended deadlines here.

 
Frequently Asked Questions

The impact of the pandemic on many taxpayers is substantial and could intensify during the coming days. Given the circumstances, you may have a number of questions with respect to your tax affairs and how the COVID-19 pandemic would have an impact on you as a taxpayer. Here we provide answers to some of those questions.

 
Others

  • You can submit a Maldives Real Time Gross Settlement (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 the 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.
  • Subsidise 40% from electricity bills for the months of April and May.
  • Subsidise 30% from water bills for the months of April and May.
  • Principal and interest amount of loan repayments to BML to be deferred by 6 months to businesses and individuals who have been negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19.
  • To reduce the price of oil sold by the State Trading Organisation.

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

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?

Considers 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.

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]