Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Sri Lanka ease curfew, restrictions starting April 20. Visa suspension, border closures due to COVID-19 remain.

This alert affects Sri Lanka

This alert began 19 Apr 2020 07:17 GMT and is scheduled to expire 03 May 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
Authorities in Sri Lanka are easing restrictions placed to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), starting April 20. Officials will revise an existing curfew to 2000-0500 daily in all districts except Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, and Puttalam districts and Warakapola, Alawathugoda, Akurana, and Akkaraipattu areas of Kandy, Kegalle, and Ampara districts from April 20. The revised curfew will come into effect in most parts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, and Puttalam districts starting April 22; previous curfew hours will continue in exempted high-risk areas of the districts.

Educational institutions and entertainment venues will remain closed nationwide. Government offices and banks will reopen April 20 and 22 in respective districts in the order mentioned above; authorities are urging staff to work from home where possible. The private sector may also open at 1000 daily. All offices are to adherence to health guidelines. Public and private transport services will be allowed to ply at a maximum of 50 percent of original capacity. The ban on congregations, processions, festivals, and so on, remain. Nonessential movement between districts is barred.

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