Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Sri Lanka imposes nationwide movement restrictions May 31 and June 4-5. Nighttime curfews, other restrictions remain in place.

This alert affects Sri Lanka

This alert began 28 May 2020 16:10 GMT and is scheduled to expire 05 Jun 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

Sri Lankan authorities continue to enforce restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of May 28. Officials have announced nationwide curfews, which will be imposed all day May 31, June 4, and June 5. Nightly 2200-0400 curfews will remain in place on other dates until further notice. During curfew periods, residents must stay at home except for emergency, essential, and work purposes.

Travel to and from the districts of Colombo and Gampaha remains banned. Outside of Colombo and Gampaha, authorities have allowed public transport operations to resume, though officials are advising against nonessential trips nationwide. Some commuter train services terminating in Colombo are allowed to operate for essential workers. The use of masks in public remains mandatory. 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. Authorities continue to ban public gatherings and close educational institutions and entertainment venues.

Panic-buying and associated localized shortages of essential goods may occur in some areas, especially before extended curfew periods. Sporadic clashes are possible if any group defies official orders. Police will likely act quickly to control such incidents. The government may reintroduce or implement stricter measures in designated high-risk areas, depending on in-country cases.

Travel Restrictions

Sri Lankan authorities have indefinitely stopped issuing all visa types, including electronic, landing, multiple-entry, and residential; previously issued visas, including residential permits, remain suspended. The restrictions exempt holders of diplomatic, official, and service passports. Foreigners who entered Sri Lanka on or before March 14 will receive visa extensions at least until June 11.

Inbound passenger flights remain suspended indefinitely. Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) continues to serve cargo transport, passenger transit, and international departures; however, 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.

Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center