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Sri Lanka makes PCR test at the airport mandatory for all including foreign diplomats

VIGILANT- Passengers being scanned at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Sri Lanka. Source: AFP

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is setting strict guidelines for all diplomatic personnel entering the country with regard to the prevention of the spread of COVID 19, the Ministry of Foreign Relations said.

All diplomats and their family members entering Sri Lanka for the first time or on re-entry would have to submit the results of a PCR test done 72 hours before arrival or undergo a mandatory test at the airport, a release from the Ministry said.

This follows the reported refusal by a United States diplomat to undergo a PCR test for the COVID 19 virus at the airport on arrival on Thursday night, citing diplomatic privileges.

Media reports quoted Airport and Aviation Services Vice Chairman Rajeewasiri Sooriyaarachchi as saying that the diplomat had refused to undergo a PCR test.

This evening,  June 5, the Ministry of Foreign Relations said it has circulated the revised instructions for diplomatic staff to all missions.

According to the release the Missions are expected to inform the Ministry the details of their diplomats and their families’ entries and re-entries to the country well in advance to obtain prior approval.

These persons need to submit PCR test reports obtained within 72 hours prior to their departure from their respective countries.

If the members of the Diplomatic staff and their family members are unable to provide PCR test reports, they would be subjected to a mandatory PCR test at the Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake.

Heads of Mission and family members will self-quarantine at the Official Residences. All other arriving Diplomatic staff and their family members will have to follow quarantine procedures at a hotel, recommended by the Government of Sri Lanka (if independent/separate residences are not available), for a period of 14 days, subject to concurrence and supervision of the Heads of Mission.

The Foreign Ministry further notes that travel by Diplomatic Officers to Sri Lanka will be approved, subject to their concurrence to follow the above procedures issued by the Government of Sri Lanka.

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US Embassy spokesperson Nancy VanHorn said that US diplomatic staff adhere carefully to Sri Lankan COVID-19 guidelines, including quarantine restrictions, in close coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Relations.

She said that the arrival of US diplomatic staff to Sri Lanka also complies with the norms and procedures outlined in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, just as it applies to arrival of Sri Lankan and other diplomatic staff to the United States. (Colombo June 5, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana