Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: Sri Lanka continues nonessential activity suspension, curfew as of April 7. Visas and incoming international flights, ships suspended.

This alert affects Sri Lanka

This alert began 07 Apr 2020 03:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, travel restrictions, increased security; possible clashes

Summary
Sri Lanka is enforcing several measures as of April 7 to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities have announced that the nationwide curfew, initially scheduled 1800 March 20-0600 March 23, will continue indefinitely, albeit with intermissions. Officials have also extended a suspension of nonessential public and private operations until further notice; similar restrictions have been in place since March 20. Businesses are to utilize telecommuting facilities during this period.

Nationwide measures, including a ban on all social and public gatherings, as well as the closure of public spaces like educational institutions, tourist attractions, religious sites, dine-in restaurants, public squares, and entertainment venues, are ongoing.

Security forces are imposing rolling curfews nationwide, with three full days of curfew followed by a 6-10 hour easing period; the next intermission will take place 0600-1600 April 9. The relaxation of measures will not apply to districts identified as high-risk; as of April 7, such areas are Kandy in the Central Province, Jaffna in the Northern Province, Puttalam in the North Western Province, as well as Colombo, Gampaha, and Kalutara districts in the Western Province. Restrictions on businesses, nonessential services, and movement, except for essential, emergency, air travel, and employment purposes, will be in place during the curfew. Residents may only utilize public transport; railway services may face intermittent closures. Nonessential movement between districts is barred. Although public transportation, civil administration, essential, and emergency services will function normally, the measures are likely to affect shipping as well as private business operations. Panic-buying and associated localized shortages of essential goods may occur in some areas. Sporadic clashes are possible if any group defies official orders. Police are likely to act quickly to control such incidents.

Travel Restrictions

Sri Lankan authorities have indefinitely suspended the issuance of all visa types - including electronic, landing, multiple-entry, and residential - to foreigners regardless of nationality through at least March 31; previously issued visas for foreign nationals, including residential permits, stand temporarily suspended. Such travelers will not be allowed to enter Sri Lanka. The restrictions do not apply to holders of diplomatic, official, and service passports. Foreigners who have entered Sri Lanka on or before March 14 will receive visa extensions at least up to May 12.

Officials have also suspended all inbound international passenger flights indefinitely; however, cargo transport, passenger transit, and international departures will continue at the Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB). Officials had previously halted all international services at the Jaffna International Airport (JAF) - Sri Lanka's only other functional international airport. While domestic flights are unaffected, international passenger ships such as cruises and ferries are barred indefinitely; port operations for goods transport continue.

Additional or extended measures are possible in the coming days, especially in high-risk areas of North Western Province, as well as Western Province where Colombo is located.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure that contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int