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Sri Lanka issues strict guidelines to be followed during temporary curfew lift

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka issued strict guidelines to be followed tomorrow during the six-hour window in which the COVID-19 curfew will be temporarily lifted for the purchase of groceries and other essentials.

“Do not confuse these temporary lifts with complete reversals, as curfew will be re-imposed once the break has lapsed,” Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ajith Rohana said.

Rohana conducted a public awareness campaign yesterday covering all aspects of responsible behaviour in a time of public health crisis, the police said in a statement. The exercise was conducted in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in the island, the release said.

Excerpts follow:

We’re now fully aware of how risky this pandemic is, especially since a country with a highly developed health services sector like Italy was also overwhelmed. The main reason for this was that the [Italian] public did not take this disease seriously until it was too late.

You may have seen on foreign media the state of all infected patients in Italy and how the health sector there is struggling to cope.

We as a nation do not wish to face such a stark situation. This was why health sector specialists and authorities in Sri Lanka issued constant advice and warnings to the public.

The decision to impose a quarantine curfew too was taken due to said reasons. However, there are instances where we will temporarily lift the curfew. 

Do not confuse these temporary lifts with complete reversals, as curfew will be re-imposed once the break has lapsed.

We expect people to try and meet only their most crucial needs at these times.

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Only a single person per household must go out to shop for groceries.

The public should endeavor to return to their households immediately after.

Whoever ventures out should follow strict hygiene measures immediately upon their return.

Wash your hands with soap or an other disinfectant.

People should maintain a distance of more than one metre between one another when out in public at all times.

We request all shops, supermarkets and merchants and security personnel of all sales centers to disperse any crowds and gatherings when catering to customers. We also request them to try and limit the number of persons entering the shop at a time.

What we urge the public to understand is that the period where curfew is temporarily lifted will not be a total reversal.

This time should be used only to sort out one’s most important needs. 

From the day curfew was imposed, a huge number of people have been arrested for breaching the law. Among those people, there were many who disregarded the police’s directive of refraining from hosting or attending any kind of social gatherings and parties, etc.

We have arrested many who organised parties in various parts of the country.

It should be noted that this curfew is not an ordinary curfew where an individual would only be required to avoid stepping into the street. This curfew was imposed to keep people in social isolation.

Therefore, the police reiterates that strict action will be taken against any person who violates the curfew.

Any vehicles venturing out during the curfew will be confiscated by the police. 

We have ordered all police officers to check not only main roads but also by-roads, lanes and footpaths and arrest anyone breaking the curfew.

As a nation we have to adhere to all quarantine measures in order to control the spread of the virus. (Colombo/23Mar/2020)

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