The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority announced that the decision taken by Tourism Minister Harin Fernando to make the PCR test report, issued 72 hours ago, mandatory in Sri Lanka by a laboratory approved by the Ministry of Health for tourists who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine, has been postponed until January 20. Issuing announced. It is stated in the announcement that a meeting is planned to be held on the 17th to review the imposition of new COVID-19 regulations with the relevant authorities, including the health department, and after that a detailed guideline on the imposition of regulations will be issued.
However, contrary to the statement issued by the Sri Lanka Tourism Authority announcing new guidelines for tourists coming to Sri Lanka, Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that the status of entering Sri Lanka remains unchanged.
He said in a Twitter post that the Ministry of Health is in real-time discussion with the World Health Organization (WHO) and any statement related to Covid-19 in Sri Lanka will be made by the Ministry of Health or the Presidential Secretariat.
Also, the circular issued by the Ministry of Health on the 6th of December last year for tourists coming to the island in connection with the Covid-19 disease is still valid and there is no law or guideline that requires tourists to undergo a PCR test 72 hours before their arrival in the country. Director General of Health Services Dr. Asela Gunawardena has said this.
He has also mentioned that any system not imposed by the health authorities is not valid.
“In the future, if the tourists coming to Sri Lanka have a need to do PCR tests or if they want to do rapid antigen, we hope to inform them based on the recommendations of the expert committee and the recommendations of the World Health Organization. At present, we as the health department have vaccinated any tourist coming to Sri Lanka, but even if the vaccination has not been done, we have not imposed any requirement to do the PCR test or the antigen test 48 hours before. As we have said before, if someone has a fever, cold or cough, it is best to wear a face mask in Sri Lanka. If you have not been vaccinated, you can go to the nearest health officer’s office and get vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, here is a letter sent by the former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia, Mr. Udayanga Weeratunga, to the Minister of Tourism and Lands, Mr. Harin Fernando.
Honorable Mr. Harin Fernando,
Minister of Tourism and Lands,
Ministry of Tourism
No: 80, Gall road , Colombo 03.
Non-mandatory PCR test report issued 72 hours ago for Russian tourists who have not received Covid-19 vaccination:
At a time when travel to Russian tourists is restricted in many countries of the world due to the Ukraine-Russia war, Aeroflot returned to Sri Lanka from Moscow on October 10. It should also be mentioned that AZUR Air has been successfully bringing Russian tourists with 5 flights a week from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk cities since November 03.
In addition, from December 29, 2022, Red Wings flights arrived at Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport with 2 flights per week, which has been increased to 3 flights per week from February, bringing 1236 tourists per week to Mattala. Accordingly, nearly 15,000 Russians are going to come to this country on 45 direct flights from Russia every month.
I respectfully request you not to stop the arrival of Russian tourists today, just as the good governance government destroyed it converting a warehouse. Also, we always hope for the support of the Ministry of Tourism to protect the foreign exchange that our country receives through the success of this program.
In such a situation, we are concerned about the issuance of new Covid regulations by the Ministry, with immediate effect from yesterday, that “non-vaccinated travelers must submit a PCR report”. Because of that, the majority of countries famous among tourists such as Turkey, Egypt, Maldives, and Thailand do not do so.
Here, the PCR test report issued 72 hours ago by a laboratory approved by the Ministry of Health for travelers arriving at Katunayake and Mattala Airports from the Russian Federation via Aeroflot, AZUR Air and Red Wings direct flights to Katunayake and Mattala Airports, mandatory in Sri Lanka I respectfully request the Minister of Tourism again to give relevant instructions through the Director General of Health Services.
Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia