The Qatar Airways A350 aircraft landed at the Velana International Airport at 8.33am Wednesday with 131 passengers — mostly foreigners employed in the Maldives and Maldivians stranded abroad due to travel restrictions imposed by countries around the world.
A water salute was given as the aircraft approached the taxiway.
Transport minister Aishath Nahula, acting tourism minister Fayyaz Ismail, acting managing director of airport operator Moosa Solih and other industry stakeholders welcomed the passengers.
‘New normal’ for airlines, airport
Ahead of the reopening, ‘new normal’ measures were introduced at the Velana International Airport.
Blue markers, spaced three feet apart, are in place in front of ticketing and check-in counters, and at the pre-flight inspection zone in the international terminal, as well as in front of the check-in counters in the domestic terminal.
Glass separators of four feet have also been installed in between all check-in counters.
The social distancing measures are complemented by added hygiene and safety measures, including daily disinfection of all seats, desks, lounge areas, ticketing and check-in counters, and flooring and airport tarmac area.
Meanwhile, airlines operating flights to the Maldives were told to ensure passengers wear face masks on-board at all times.
Exceptions can be made for passengers below six years of age and those who have a medical reason for not covering their face. Masks can be removed for eating and drinking, taking oral medication, or on the directions of a crew member.
Crew members must advise passengers to replace their mask when it becomes wet or soiled.
All passengers should complete an online health declaration form before arrival and departure.
Before departure, all passengers will have to fulfil the health requirements of their onward destination. This includes coronavirus tests, if required.
No quarantine, free on-arrival visa
According to guidelines released by the Maldives tourism ministry, resorts and hotels on uninhabited islands as well as liveaboard vessels can hosting tourists right away (please see a rolling list of resort reopenings here).
Guesthouses and hotels located on inhabited islands will be allowed to reopen on August 1. Passengers on cruise ships and yachts will be barred from disembarking at inhabited islands until then.
Thirty-day free on-arrival visa will be issued to all tourists with a confirmed booking for a stay at any registered tourist facility in the country. The entire holiday has to be booked at a single facility except for transit arrangements.
There will be no mandatory quarantine or testing on arrival. Tourists will only have to complete a health declaration form.
But visitors with symptoms of the Covid-19 respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus or those travelling with someone who has similar symptoms will be tested at their expense.