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Sri Lanka police offers clarity on COVID-19 curfew confusion

ECONOMYNEXT – Curfew in Sri Lanka’s Kalutara and Puttalam districts – considered to be at high risk of COVID-19 infection – have been temporarily lifted along with curfew in the rest of the country, barring Colombo and Gampaha.

There has been some confusion regarding the latest updates from the government pertaining to the easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures in the country following two contradictory statements issued by the Police Media Division and the President’s Media Division (PMD) last night.

The statement from the police at 7pm said that curfew will continue in the Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara and Puttalam districts, while the PMD statement issued at 7.55pm said that curfew in the Kalutara and Puttalam districts will be lifted. Curfew in the Colombo and Gampaha districts will be in force until further notice, the PMD added.

Police Spokesman SP Jaliya Senaratne clarified to EconomyNext today that curfew in Kalutara and Puttalam have been lifted at the moment until further notice. The two districts were among the high-risk areas identified by health authorities and this is the first time curfew has been lifted in these areas since March.

In all districts barring Colombo and Gampaha (including Kalutara and Puttalam) curfew will be effective only from 8.00 pm to 5.00 am daily from today until further notice.

The PMD statement also said that resumption of civilian life and work while curfew is in force in the districts of Colombo and Gampaha would commence today (11) as previously scheduled.

Conditions spelt out in previous announcements regarding the resumption of normal life will remain unchanged.

Offering some clarity on the confusion, SP Senaratne said the police statement issued last night was not a new curfew update but rather instructions on how work should resume today.

The timing of the release of the statement was so that it would be picked up by prime time new telecasts, he said. Discussions on the final decision pertaining to lifting the curfew were still going on at the time the statement was issued, he added.

According to the statement, starting today, anyone travelling to work must carry on their person a document in an electronic form (a soft copy) or a valid official identification card issued by the workplace.

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Government employees who travel to work in their own vehicles are advised to travel to their respective workplaces before 8.30 am and employees in the private sector are advised to travel to work between 8.30 am to 10 am.

When returning home from work, government employees using their own vehicles are advised to travel between 3 pm to 4 pm, while the time allocated for private-sector employees is between 4 pm to 5 pm. (Colombo/May11/2020)

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