Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you're fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on December 29.
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to the Maldives here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Maldives reopened borders to all travelers from all countries on July 15, 2020. The primary exception to this is the tightly packed capital city of Malé, which is off-limits to visitors as it has been the source of the majority of the country's coronavirus cases.
What's on offer
This is the couples' destination to end all others -- luxury hotels set on private islands, with rooms cantilevered over the water, just in case a walk to the beach is too much effort.
Who can go
At present, the Maldives is open to visitors from all countries, aside from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini, as long as they have proof of a negative Covid test taken no more than four days prior to their arrival.
In early 2021, the destination launched a loyalty program that rewards regular visitors with points based on the frequency and duration of their trips. Those who rack up lots of points will be bumped up to various elite status levels that offer advantages including hotel discounts.
What are the restrictions?
Travelers arriving from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini are not permitted to enter the Maldives at present.
This also applies to those who have visited these countries within the past 14 days, as well as travelers who have transited through these destinations for more than 12 hours before traveling to the Maldives.
Visitors from all other destinations must present a certificate of a negative PCR test carried out within the 96 hours prior to departure, clearly showing the name and address of the laboratory, as well as the date of the sample taken, regardless of their vaccination status.
The result needs to be attached to the Traveler Health Declaration form, which must be submitted online within the 24 hours prior to arrival. Visitors are asked to download the national contact tracing app, TraceEkee, and use it during their journey.
These restrictions were temporarily dropped for fully vaccinated travelers earlier in the year, but have since been reintroduced.
All non-tourist arrivals from the UK, including transiting passengers, must undergo a quarantine of either seven days for those who are vaccinated, or 14 days for non-vaccinated travelers.
However, these requirements do not apply to tourists and the Maldives has been removed from the UK red list as of September 22.
Visitors are allowed to split stays between hotels. However, if you spend more than 48 hours in the Greater Malé area, you must take another PCR test before moving elsewhere.
Those who are not fully vaccinated are permitted to stay in guest accommodation in local islands provided that 60% of the population, including 90% of over-65s and 95% of tourism staff, are fully vaccinated.
What's the Covid situation?
The Maldives has reported a total of over 95,000 coronavirus cases and 262 deaths as of December 29.
While the figures have remained relatively low for the most part, Covid-19 cases jumped from around 100 to over 1,500 in the space of a month, prompting a short-term ban on visitors from South Asia on May 13.
Although a record 2,194 cases were reported on May 20, the numbers have since decreased significantly, with 1,044 cases reported on the week leading up to December 29.
The country began its roll-out of the India-made AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine on February 1. Hospitality workers were included in the first round of citizens to get vaccinated.
Earlier this year, Dr. Abdulla Mausoom, the Maldivian Minister of Tourism, previously confirmed that the Maldives is developing a "Visit, Vaccinate and Vacation" scheme named "3V" that would allow visitors to receive a Covid-19 vaccine on arrival.
The program won't go ahead until the country's entire population, estimated at just under 550,000, has been fully vaccinated.
As of December 29, approximately 367,068 people in the Maldives had been administered with a full dose of a Covid-19 vaccination.
What can visitors expect?
The Maldives are selling themselves as a destination offering a "normal" vacation, thanks to the isolation of most hotels and the fact that the vast majority of visitors stay in-resort rather than venture out.
This means that while locals are subject to restrictions, those going to and from the airport are exempt. Split stays between different hotels are allowed, if the hotels meet government requirements. Requests for split stays must be made to the Ministry of Tourism at least 48 hours before travel.
Expect also for your resort to have some rules -- especially a temperature check on arrival, and masks to be worn indoors. As most items in shops must be shipped to the Maldives, some things can get pricey -- you should bring things like masks and hand sanitizer with you to avoid spending while on the island chain.
Our recent coverage
Wondering what it's like to visit right now? Read this piece, which details the pandemic vacation experience. If you're planning your trip, check out our list of the best dining experiences. And meet the Maldives' "barefoot pilots." And if a travel bubble is what you want, you're in luck -- the Waldorf Astoria Maldives has just revealed its latest property, a Maldivian private island called Ithaafushi, available for a cool $80,000 a night.