Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Sri Lanka continue easing curfew restrictions as of April 22. Visa suspension, border closures due to COVID-19 remain.

This alert affects Sri Lanka

This alert began 22 Apr 2020 07:11 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
Authorities in Sri Lanka are easing restrictions placed to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as of April 22. Officials have limited or plan to limit daily curfew hours to 2000-0500 in most parts of Sri Lanka, in addition to mandating the use of face masks in public. Stringent movement, travel, and business restrictions remain in place across high-risk zones, including the capital city of Colombo. The details of the restrictions are:

  • All districts except high-risk districts and areas: Daily curfew imposed 2000-0500 from April 20, with extended weekend curfew from 2000 April 24-0500 April 27.
  • High-risk districts: Revised curfew hours 2000-0500 will come into effect from April 27 in the Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, and Puttalam districts.
  • High-risk areas: No relaxation of curfew in Ampara District's Akkaraipattu area, Kandy District's Akurana and Alawathugoda areas, Kegalle District's Warakapola area. Other such areas include Bambalapitiya, Dehiwala, Gothatuwa, Grandpass, Keselwatta, Kotahena, Kohuwala, Maradana, Mount Lavinia, Mulleriyawa, and Wellampitiya in Colombo District, Ja Ela, Kochchikade, and Seeduwa in Gampaha District, Aluthgama, Bandaragama, Beruwala, and Payagala in Kalutara District, as well as Marawila, Puttalam, and Wennappuwa in Puttalam District,


During the curfew, residents must stay at home except for emergency, essential, and work purposes. While government offices will function with up to half its staff capacity, private offices may open from 1000 daily with adequate hygiene and social distancing measures. Public and private transport services will be allowed to ply at a maximum of 50 percent of original capacity. Nonessential movement between districts is barred. Nationwide measures such as the closure of educational institutions and entertainment venues, as well as a ban on all public gatherings, including religious congregations, continue.

Panic-buying and associated localized shortages of essential goods may occur in some areas, especially prior to the extended weekend curfew. 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.

Rollback of relaxations as well as enforcement of stricter curfews in newly identified high-risk areas are possible in the coming days if in-country cases increase.

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