Sri Lanka COVID-19 regulations likely to be gazetted this week – officials

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President says heads of government and private bodies will be held accountable for employees adhering to health guidelines in their organizations in the wake of the current spike in COVID-19 cases as officials say the guidelines will be made law this week.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says the spread of the virus in the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Centre is “an unfortunate example”.

At a meeting with the Presidential Task Force to curb COVID-19 at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday, July 14, the President had said that “although day-to-day life has returned to normalcy, precautionary measures should not be relaxed as the risk of COVID-19 spread remains high.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Public Health Inspectors’ Union, Upul Rohana, says that the guidelines cannot be enforced by his members because they have not been gazetted as law.

“The Legal Draughtsman’s department and the Attorney General have passed the guidelines, but the Minister has not gazetted the regulations,” Rohana said in an interview published by YouTuber “Truth with Chamuditha”.

Rohana said that barbers, for instance, have been barred from offering head massages or shaves. “But some of the barbers are now doing both. We can’t take action against them because we don’t have the legal power,” he said.

Meanwhile, official sources in the Health Ministry said that the guidelines have been sent back to the Legal Draughtsman’s Department for “fine-tuning”.

These officials said that the regulations will give PHIs and other enforcers on the ground “extraordinary powers and we want to ensure that there is no abuse or misuse.”

They said that the Ministry hopes to gazette the regulations by the end of the week. (Colombo, July 15, 2020-sb)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana