Summary
Sri Lankan authorities are extending an ongoing curfew through at least 0500 Nov. 9 across Western Province consisting of Colombo, Gampaha, and Kalutara districts due to new local cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19); extensions are possible. A curfew is also in place indefinitely across several areas in Kegalle, Kurunegala, Nuwara Eliya, Puttalam, and Ratnapura districts. All nonessential businesses except permitted industries must close; officials may mandate authorized employers to arrange transport and accommodation facilities for on-site workers in curfew areas. Essential shops such as pharmacies and grocery shops will open twice weekly 0800-2200; those in Colombo and Kurunegala districts will open Tuesdays and Fridays, while those in Gampaha and Kalutara districts Mondays and Thursdays. Residents must stay home except for emergency and essential purposes. Authorities are barring entry and exit to the areas until further notice; those employed in the regions may not return to their homes in non-curfew areas. Vehicles may only transit through such areas. Officials advise those living in or with travel history to curfew areas to monitor their health and undergo COVID-19 tests if symptoms occur. Similar restrictions are possible in other districts if COVID-19 activity rises.

Authorities have also tightened nationwide measures in non-curfew areas. The usage of facemasks in public remains mandatory. Only two people per household may exit homes each day unless for essential or authorized employment purposes. Interdistrict travel is banned. Officials have suspended postal services in Western Province, Batticaloa, Galle, and Kuliyapitiya, and public transport, including long-distance buses, intercity trains, and trains on the Kelani Valley, Main, and Puttalam lines. Authorities are allowing public and private hire transport to operate in non-curfew areas with 75 percent and 50 percent passenger capacity, respectively; private vehicles are permitted. Recreational venues such as casinos, nightclubs, spas, cinema halls, museums, and zoos that were allowed to open earlier with social distancing measures, are also closed until further notice. Religious sites may only permit a maximum of 25 people at any one time.

Retail spaces and hospitality venues, such as hotels and dine-in restaurants, must hold no more than 50 percent of customer capacity at any time; pubs and bars must limit entry to 25 percent of possible patrons. Schools may only operate for examinations; daycare and preschools are functioning with 50 percent capacity. All public gatherings are banned; however, weddings and funerals may occur in non-curfew areas with up to 50 and 25 guests, respectively. All workplaces are to use telecommuting to the extent possible or ensure health precautions are in place if on-site work is required. Officials have directed all private and public organizations to collect and update employee details to facilitate contact tracing if and when necessary. Authorities may reintroduce or implement stricter measures, especially in designated high-risk areas, depending on in-country cases. Panic-buying and associated localized shortages of essential goods may occur in areas under curfew. Sporadic clashes are possible if any group defies official orders. Police are likely to act quickly to control such incidents.

Travel Restrictions
Authorities suspended the arrival of international commercial passenger flights, including inbound repatriation flights, until further notice. Limited flights may restart depending on local caseload. Authorities have suspended the issuance of all visa types, including electronic, landing, multiple-entry, and residential, indefinitely; previously issued visas stand canceled. 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 already in Sri Lanka may apply to extend their visas; officials will extend existing visas until Dec. 5. Officials are indefinitely deferring earlier plans to allow foreigners to enter from Aug. 1 due to new local COVID-19 cases. SriLankan Airlines (UL) announced a limited resumption of flights from Sept. 6 to airports serving multiple cities, including London, Tokyo, and Melbourne. Inbound passengers are allowed to transit through Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) as long as they have a connecting flight leaving within 12 hours of arrival. All outbound passengers must take reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests within 72 hours before departure.

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.

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.

 

 

Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center