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Sri Lanka set to reopen borders with conditions

It has been reported by media outlets that Sri Lanka has announced that it will reopen its borders to visitors from all countries from the 1st of August, but only if they meet strict requirements and undergo rigorous testing for Coronavirus.

The Ministry of Tourism for Sri Lanka has mandated that all visitors be in possession of a certificate, issued no earlier than 72 hours before boarding their flight to the island, declaring the bearer Covid-19 free. Travellers will be tested for Coronavirus upon arrival at the airport, the results being available within four to six hours. Four or five days later, a mobile testing unit will arrive at the guests’ accommodation to carry out another test and those remaining on the island longer than 10 days will be asked to take a further test for the virus. In addition, if visitors experience symptoms at any time during their stay, they will be required to quarantine for between 14 and 21 days in a designated hotel. Perhaps to cover the cost of these tests, the cost of a visitor’s visa has been raised from $40 (£31) to $100 (£78).

In addition to the repeated testing, Sri Lanka is taking further steps to mitigate the virus. Tourists will be banned from using public transport and must stay in Government-approved accommodation, a list of which will appear on the official Sri Lanka tourism website in due course. Guests will also be required to stay in Sri Lanka for at least five days. This may be inconsequential for travellers basing their entire visit in Sri Lanka but may affect the popularity of twin-centre trips with the Maldives.

Strict hygiene and social distancing measures will be in place at all the tourist sites, open from the 1st of August, such as the ancient Sigiriya Fortress, Yala National Park and the temples in Kandy.

When announcing the new rules, the Ministry of Tourism said: "While this may be inconvenient, it is essential to safeguard everybody and provide peace of mind."

Sri Lanka experienced only 1,835 cases of Covid-19, leading to 11 deaths. The island was initially locked down but restrictions eased in April. Weddings with up to 100 guests have been permitted since the end of May with everyone, including the bride and groom, required to wear face masks.

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