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Coronavirus: Sri Lanka ends 3-day COVID-19 lockdown; tough travel restrictions from May 21

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Colombo, May 17: Sri Lanka on Monday lifted the three-day lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus but authorities asked people to stay indoors as over 2,000 daily new cases are being reported in the country.

lockdown

Further, Sri Lanka will return to a form of continuous lockdown by way of travel restrictions from Friday (May 21), officials said. The restrictions on movement would be in force from 11 pm on May 21, until 4 am on 25 May.

It will be reimposed at 11 pm on May 25 and will be continued till 29 May. The just-concluded three-day lockdown -- without imposing a curfew -- was meant to force people to remain indoors during the long weekend which coincided with the festivities at the end of Ramadan fast.

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A police spokesperson said the ending of the lockdown was only limited to the movements for essential work. "People can move out of their homes for essential work based on the last digit of their national identity card," the spokesman said.

The odd number last digit identity card holders are allowed to step out on odd numbered days (dates), while the even numbered are allowed on the even number days, he added.

State and private offices have been asked to operate with minimum staff under health regulations. Each day over 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 are being reported in the country, health officials said. Sri Lanka currently has over 21,000 people receiving treatment for COVID-19 at hospitals, Shavendra Silva, the Army chief who heads the COVID-19 prevention operations, said.

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The public transport and taxis would be in operation only until 11 pm Monday when a night travel ban comes into force until 4 am Tuesday. Travelling by taxis and three-wheelers are limited to two people. The night travel ban will remain enforced till the end of the month.

Dhammika Wijesinghe, Director General of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), last week announced that foreign tourists visiting the island will be able to travel under the Biosafety Bubble System according to health guidelines.

However, institutions and individuals who have taken steps to bring in tourists are strongly advised to follow the health guidelines when transporting tourists through the Tourism Bubble System and strict action will be taken against those who violate those guidelines.

Sri Lanka's tourism industry, which was badly hit by the pandemic, has been identified as an export industry and is included in the National Plan for Export Development. Tourist arrivals to the country have been steadily increasing since the country reopened to tourists. It was then that the third wave of Covid began in the country, which has reported 962 fatalities due to COVID-19.

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