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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Sri Lanka ‘revokes’ Gulf travel ban under five conditions

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The newly announced conditions will apply until further notice.

Sri Lanka’s travel ban on travellers coming from any of the six Gulf countries has been lifted subject to five conditions, according to a press release on Newswire.

On Tuesday, the disembarkation ban was imposed on Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait after nearly 110 passengers who had arrived on Monday from the Gulf to Sri Lanka tested positive for Covid-19.

“This is of great concern. They arrive with negative PCR test results. Now it is a question of the validity of those PCR tests. Passengers are testing positive upon arrival after a flight of between 3-4 hours. There is an issue and concerns have been raised in this regard,” said Cabinet co-spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella on Tuesday.

Read also: Sri Lanka temporarily bans passengers from GCC due to rise in cases.

The ban was set to stay in force until July 12, the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka announced but was lifted earlier on Wednesday based on certain conditions.

“In according with instructions received from the Ministry of Health and the National Operations Centre for Prevention of Covid-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) the passenger restriction on the following 6 Countries (Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait) is revoked with immediate effect,” Abeywickrama said in a statement.

Now, all passengers arriving from any of the GCC countries must present a negative PCR test obtained from an approved hospital or laboratory in their respective country within 96 hours prior to departure.

The tests must have a QR Code/Bar Code and airlines should ensure their authenticity before departure. Antigen tests cannot be accepted as a pre-departure test for boarding, authorities added.

Travellers arriving in Sri Lanka will only be permitted to arrive for hotel quarantine or through the Sri Lanka Tourism Bio-Bubble Route to ensure the safety of the community.

All conditions will apply until further notice.

Read also: Qatar opens one of world’s largest vaccination centres

The South Asian country has been working on curbing its second wave of Covid-19 in recent weeks, with daily reported numbers finally decreasing drastically compared to the peak in May.

Qatar hosts a huge community Sri Lankan expat community, which means the new conditions would have likely impacted many seeking to return home from Doha.

Those arriving from Sri Lanka to Qatar, along with Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines are required to quarantine for ten days at a government-designated hotel.


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