Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Sri Lanka continues to revise nationwide COVID-19 restrictions as of July 15. International travel ban ongoing.

  • Alert Begins: 15 Jul 2020 03:05 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Limited transport and business disruptions, travel restrictions, increased security; possible clashes

As of July 15, Sri Lankan authorities continue to modify restrictions imposed to halt the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). School operations and tuition classes - which briefly resumed July 1 - are suspended until further notice due to new COVID-19 cases. Officials lifted the nationwide 0000-0400 daily curfew June 28, though they continue to ban social gatherings and entertainment venues. Additionally, the use of masks in public remains mandatory.

Intra- and inter-district public transport such as trains and buses have restarted in many regions that saw the strictest restrictions through early June, including Colombo and Gampaha districts. Officials continue to advise citizens to avoid nonessential travel as a precaution. Private hire vehicles, including taxis and rickshaws, have been operational since early May. Authorities are allowing government and private offices to determine the number of employees who work on-site, as long as health precautions are in place. Officials allowed places of worship to reopen, June 12, but at a maximum of 50 people at a time. The government also opened national parks, zoos, and botanical gardens, June 15. The government may reintroduce or implement stricter measures in designated high-risk areas, depending on in-country cases. Sporadic clashes are possible if any group defies official orders. Police will likely act quickly to control such incidents.

Travel Restrictions

Authorities have stopped issuing all visa types, including electronic, landing, multiple-entry, and residential, indefinitely; previously issued visas, including residential permits, remain suspended. Foreign nationals with diplomatic, official, and service passports are exempt from the controls. Diplomatic personnel permitted to enter Sri Lanka must submit a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result taken within 72 hours of departure, or undergo a PCR test upon arrival. Foreigners who are already in Sri Lanka may apply to extend the validity of their visas. Officials are indefinitely deferring earlier plans to allow entry to foreigners from Aug. 1, due to new local COVID-19 cases.

Inbound commercial passenger flights remain suspended indefinitely. Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) continues to serve cargo transport, emergency repatriation, passenger transit, and international departures. All international services at Jaffna International Airport (JAF), Sri Lanka's only other functional international airport, remain suspended. International passenger ships such as cruises and ferries are barred indefinitely, though port operations for goods transport can continue.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

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.

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