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Confusion over Sri Lanka’s latest COVID-19 curfew update

CURFEW BLOCK: Sri Lankan police Special Task Force personnel wearing a facemask holds a stop sign at a checkpoint during a nationwide curfew imposed as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Colombo.

ECONOMYNEXT – There appears to be some confusion regarding the COVID-19 curfew in Colombo and other districts, as an unexpectedly high turnout of foot and vehicular traffic was observed this morning in many areas still considered high risk.

A last-minute announcement from the president’s office last night sought to clarify that the previously announced staggered relaxation of lockdown measures using National Identity Card (NIC) numbers. It said the last digit of the NIC as a curfew pass only applies to areas where curfew is in effect and not where curfew has been relaxed.

Travel to and from villages and towns under strict lockdown to a high incidence of infection remains banned, the statement said.

It was announced previously that curfew would be relaxed starting today using the NIC system. This decision was then changed with curfew relaxation to begin next Monday, May 11.

As per the latest update, people whose NIC numbers end in digits 1 or 2 may leave their homes only to purchase essential items and medicine from stores and pharmacies located within walking distance.

However, residents of Colombo told EconomyNext that many vehicles and people could be seen freely roaming about with no police presence visible in their local areas. On Twitter, too, Sri Lankans were commenting on the sudden and unexpected vehicle movement in the city.

https://twitter.com/gopiharan/status/1257158407552995328

A spokesperson for the president’s office was unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, adding to the confusion, the Police Media Division told EconomyNext that curfew will continue till May 11 all over the island except during the hours it will be temporarily lifted in districts other than Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara and Puttalam. The NIC system, police said, is no longer applicable once curfew is lifted. (Colombo/May4/2020)

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