Sri Lanka to delay Aug 1 re-opening of Colombo International Airport

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COLOMBO, June 28 (PTI): Sri Lanka has further delayed the reopening of its international airport here from the scheduled August 1, saying it has to make arrangements to bring back home Sri Lankan nationals stranded abroad.

Sri Lanka closed its international airports in mid March following the outbreak of COVID-19.

The government was aiming to open its international airports by August 1 as no community transmission of the COVID-19 had been reported since late April.

However, 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,” Chandrasiri said.

“The priority right now is to cater to them enabling their return,” Chandrasiri added. The decision will deal a blow to the island’s tourism authorities 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.

The country was 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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