An announcement banning passengers from Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates entering Sri Lanka has come as bad news for expatriates of the island country residing in the sultanate.
The Tourism Ministry of Sri Lanka stated on Tuesday that passengers with a travel history in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the past two weeks will not be permitted to enter the country from July 1.
According to official sources, the decision was taken for two reasons -a surge in cases in the island and quarantine facilities being filled to capacity in Sri Lanka. The ban is dated till July 13 by which time the number of cases is expected to decrease enabling the Sri Lanka government to review the situation.
Roy Lasantha, president of Sri Lankan Community Social Club, said, “The situation is very challenging. There are people who made flight reservations but can’t travel now.” Lasantha noted that the announcement is particularly distressing for those Sri Lankan expats who had booked flights to return for good, some of who dispatched their cargo prior to their departure.
“As a club, we are currently more focused on dealing with COVID-19 patients, arranging vaccination and ICU beds. Ten Sri Lankans died of COVID-19 in Oman in the last seven days. The situation back home, too, is bad.”
A Muscat-based Sri Lankan businessman said, “A couple of colleagues who were supposed to fly back home have had to re-schedule their travel plans following the announcement.”
Sri Lankan government rules permit only vaccinated passengers with a valid PCR test who must be under observation for one day. Non-vaccinated passengers must undergo mandatory 14-day institutional quarantine.
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