Maldives, UAE impose travel ban on SL
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
The Maldivian Government and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have imposed travel restrictions for several South Asian countries, including Sri Lanka, as coronavirus cases in the country are escalating. The other countries that are banned by the Maldives are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and it became effective from 9 May 2021. Meanwhile, Ceylon Today learns there had been 180 travellers, including Sri Lankans arriving in the country and on Sunday (9), there had been 125 travellers entering the island.
Most of them were of Sri Lankan origin and others were Chinese, UK nationals and USA nationals, said sources at Sri Lanka tourism. Also, there have been four staff members attached to the finance department of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), a wing of the Sri Lanka Tourism, who have contracted Covid-19 and the entire SLTPB has been shut down with staffers working from home until further notice. The Ministry of Tourism, Maldives, ordered a halt to any further check-ins of inbound tourists from South Asian countries to guest houses and hotels in the inhabited islands.
They have also decided to temporarily suspend the entry of work permit holders to the Maldives from South Asian countries. The UAE on the other hand has announced the suspension of entry for travellers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka on national and any foreign aircraft, effective from 11.59 p.m. on Wednesday (12). The UAE Government said that all transit flights are suspended as well, with the exception of those travelling to UAE and bound for these countries. Exceptions are those for the UAE citizens, diplomatic missions, official delegations, Golden Visa holders and businessmen, noted the UAE National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA).
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga told Ceylon Today that under the tourism bubble only one per cent has contracted COVID -19 and they have no plans to stop travel under the bubble programme until the Covid-19 task force and the Ministry of Health announce the need for it. Currently, both the BIA and the Mattala airports are open for bio bubble tourism.
However, he added that before 1 May 2021, 68 foreigners, who travelled in the bio bubble, had contracted the virus and were quarantined. Out of 14,000 odd travellers, only 68 were tested positive between 1 April and now, he added. “Some are being treated and some have finished the quarantine and left after the stipulated 14-day period. The Minister also noted that there has been a decline in travellers entering the country in the last few days.
Except for Indians, the airport is open for other countries. They will be subjected to PCR on arrival and another PCR after 14 days, noted the Tourism Minister. Those who have taken the two doses of COVID-19 vaccines are also coming to Sri Lanka he added.
There had been 229 aircraft flying into Mattala International Airport (MIA) from January 2021 up to now and the passenger movement has been 18,825 during the same period said MIA Director Operations Shehan Sumanasekara. Last month there had been 700 travellers arriving at the MIA. Overall 7,000 including repatriates had arrived from 1 January 2021, he added.