Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Sri Lanka extend and modify curfew restrictions through May 11. Visa suspension, border closures due to COVID-19 remain.

This alert affects Sri Lanka

This alert began 02 May 2020 09:52 GMT and is scheduled to expire 11 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, travel restrictions, increased security; possible clashes

Authorities in Sri Lanka are revising restrictions placed to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of May 2.

Officials are maintaining a nationwide 24-hour curfew in most parts of Sri Lanka through 0500 May 4; limited daily curfew hours of 2000-0500 will restart May 4-6, after which officials will reimpose the 24-hour curfew through 0500 May. 11.

Stringent movement, travel, and business restrictions continue across designated high-risk zones, including the commercial capital, Colombo. The details of the restrictions are:

  • High-risk districts: Ongoing 24-hour curfew in the Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, and Puttalam districts through at least May 11.
  • 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; and Marawila, Puttalam, and Wennappuwa in Puttalam District.

The use of face masks in public remains mandatory. During the curfew, residents must stay at home except for emergency, essential, and work purposes. Authorities will restrict the outdoor movement of citizens for essential purchases by identity card number; those with cards ending in numbers one and two can go out on Monday, in three and four on Tuesday, and so on. 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 for limited purposes, with 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 extended curfew periods. 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; 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.

The rollback of relaxations, as well as further enforcement of stricter curfews in designated high-risk areas, are possible beyond May 11 if in-country cases increase.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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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