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20 Apr 2020 | 06:01 AM UTC

Sri Lanka: Authorities to ease COVID-19 restrictions April 20, 22 /update 11

Authorities to ease certain COVID-19 restrictions April 20, 22; follow authority directives



On Sunday, April 19, authorities announced that some restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) would be eased on Monday, April 20, and Wednesday, April 22. Curfews will be lifted during the day in 19 districts on Monday, and in the rest of the country on Wednesday, though will remain in place at night.

Authorities are hoping to allow the Sri Lankan economy to begin recovering from COVID-19-related disruptions, and allow parliamentary elections that were originally scheduled for Saturday, April 25, to go ahead.

The ongoing nationwide curfew strictly prohibits travel between districts except for individuals providing essential services. The government has designated Colombo, Gampaha, Puttalam, Kalutara, Kandy, and Jaffna "High Risk Zones." Individuals in these areas are prohibited from leaving their homes except for essential needs. Schools will be reopened on Monday, May 11. These measures will be lifted as previously stated on April 20 and 22.

SriLankan Airlines extended a temporary suspension on Tuesday, April 14, for all passenger flights until Thursday, April 30, due to an indefinite closure of all international airports in Sri Lanka. The suspension was implemented on Wednesday, April 8, and originally due to expire on Tuesday, April 21. The airline may continue to operate some departures, as well as repatriation flights at the government's request.

Meanwhile, only departing flights with passengers originating from Colombo will be allowed to operate under the restriction; emergency diversions, technical landings, and freighter operations will also be allowed. Authorities have banned cruise ship passengers from disembarking in Sri Lanka until further notice.

As of April 20, there are 295 confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases nationwide, with seven associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.


Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.