Nightclubs, Betting Centres and Massage parlours closed, pleasure trips banned in new directive

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka government today banned all pleasure trips, pilgrimages and shut down nightclubs, massage parlours, Betting Centres and social events in an effort to prevent the further spread of the COVID19 virus as the number of cases recorded as positive for the virus rose to 51.

These stringent measures are being taken a week after the first case of domestic transmission of the coronavirus was recorded officially.

Police stations around the country have been ordered to set up barriers and road-blocks on all major roads running through their areas and check all buses and vehicles transporting people.

The Acting Inspector General of Police has issued orders to 90 police stations across the country to carry out these checks, officials announced today.

Police spokesman Superintendent Jaliya Senaratne told reporters that police are empowered to take buses carrying trippers into custody. “Under Quarantine Ordinances we are also empowered to cancel the permits granted to the bus operators.”

He also said the nightclubs, social clubs and massage parlours have also been closed. “We are closely policing these institutions, particularly in the urban areas.”

Betting centres where Sri Lankans gather in the evenings to bet on horse races in the UK, Hong Kong and other overseas race tracks are also shut down. “People in these places spend long hours in close proximity,”

Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said that the current holidays that have been granted by the state “is not for pleasure travel but for people to stay home.”

The head of the National Task Force handling the COVID19 outbreak Army Chief Lt Gen Shavendra Silva
added that Tourists who are in the country should also refrain from sight-seeing.

“We know you have come to this country see its beauty, but under these special circumstances please limit your travel away from your hotels or places where you are staying,” Silva said.

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Silva went on to say that the country needs to prevent groups of people gathering under any circumstances.

“Even events such as swimming clubs and other sporting groups should refrain from doing so,” he told the press briefing at the headquarters of the COVID19 Task Force.

On Tuesday President Gotabaya Rajapaksa expressed his frustration that pilgrims were flocking to Adam’s Peak for the annual pilgrimage. (Colombo, March 18, 2020)

-Arjuna Ranawana

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