Asia Aviation Business Coronavirus Health Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka delays opening of airport to manage repatriation of stranded workers

Sri Lankan government says it will further delayed the reopening of its international airport from the scheduled August 1, in order to manage arrangements to bring back home Sri Lankan workers stranded abroad due to travel restrictions imposed in view of coronavirus pandemic.

Sri Lanka closed its international airports in mid March following the outbreak of COVID-19 and was planning on reopening on 1st August but Airports Authority Chairman Retired Major General GA Chandrasiri said the Colombo International Airport will not be re-opened on August 1 and it will be further delayed.

“The delay is due to the need to make arrangements to bring back home Sri Lankan expatriate workers,” he said.

“We have already got down about 12,000 of them – another 40,000 remain to be brought back,” Mr Chandrasiri said.

“The priority right now is to cater to them enabling their return,” Mr Chandrasiri added.

Blow to Toursim

The delay is likely to deal a blow to the island’s tourism industry as they were gearing up to welcome back tourists to the country from August under strict measures to boost the tourism sector that has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sri Lanka has re-opened in phases for business since mid-May and the health authorities say there had been no reported cases of the pandemic since April 30. Sri Lanka recorded only 11 deaths from a little over 2,000 positive cases. No deaths reported since June 1.

The health authorities have put in place a PCR test mechanism at the Colombo airport for all returnees. They are required to undergo quarantine upon return.

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