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COVID-19: Sri Lanka temporarily stops on-arrival visa policy

Mariyam Malsa
15 March 2020, MVT 16:53
A Sri Lankan municipality employee (L) wearing protective gear walks along with a Public Health Inspector (R) to spray disinfectant around the compound of a housing complex in Colombo on March 14, 2020. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP)
Mariyam Malsa
15 March 2020, MVT 16:53

Sri Lankan authorities announced an indefinite halt on granting on-arrival visas to all countries which were extended the service, including Maldives, effective from 2330 hrs on March 15.

Although Sri Lanka previously decided to indefinitely suspend the on-arrival visa facility at the airport, Maldives was exempted from the measure at the time. However, some media outlets claimed that Maldives was included in the entry ban announced earlier. In response, the foreign ministry denied the rumours.

Only individuals possessing official or diplomatic passports and resident visas are exempt from the measure implemented to strengthen Sri Lanka's effort against the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Maldivians planning to travel to Sri Lanka for urgent matters can submit an application at the country's electronic visa authority.

Sri Lanka is the most-frequented destination for Maldivians travelling abroad for medical purposes and vacation. Approximately 13,000 Maldivians presently reside in Sri Lanka for education and work.

The Sri Lankan government noted the likelihood of incoming passengers being quarantined for a 14-day period depending on the country they are arriving from.

The foreign ministry called on all Maldivians currently residing in Sri Lanka to register at Maldives' High Commission located in the country.

The ministry urged Maldivians currently residing in Sri Lanka to avoid non-urgent travel, refrain from attending large gatherings or visiting public areas and remain indoors as much as possible.

Furthermore, the ministry stressed the importance of travel insurance for all Maldivians travelling abroad amid the outbreak.

Globally, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 156,000 and claimed over 5,800 lives around the world. Out of those infected, more than 75,000 have recovered.

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