Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Colombo, Sri Lanka

Location:  Sri Lanka

Event:  The government of Sri Lanka has confirmed 75 cases of COVID-19

On March 19, 2020, the Department of State issued a global Level 4 Health Advisory (Do Not Travel) advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.  In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.  U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel.  Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and are implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.  Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.

 In Sri Lanka, all incoming passenger arrivals have been suspended until March 25, 2020.  Aircraft departures, passenger connections, and transits to other flights are permitted but availability is extremely limited.  Travelers should be prepared for additional travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. U.S. citizens who are considering returning to the United States are urged to work with their airlines to make travel arrangements while flights are still available.  We strongly encourage travelers to depart as soon as possible as scheduled flights may be cancelled with little advance warning.

 The Sri Lankan government declared an island-wide curfew beginning at 6:00 p.m. on March 20 until 06:00 a.m. on Monday, March 23, 2020.  This evening (March 21), the Sri Lankan government declared that the ongoing curfew would be extended until Tuesday, March 24, at 6 a.m.  The curfew will be lifted on March 24 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then re-imposed – in Colombo, Gamapaha, Puttalam and perhaps other areas as well – after for a period of time still to be determined.  The U.S. Embassy provide further guidance as soon as it becomes available.

 The government of Sri Lanka has established hotlines for tourists who are facing problems scheduling transportation to the airport for departure:

– +94 (011) 244-4480
– +94 (011) 244-4481
– +94 (011) 597-8730
– +94 (011) 597-8734
-+94 (011) 597-8720

 The government of Sri Lanka has implemented measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Schools and universities are closed until April 20, 2020.  Sporting events, festivals, and large gatherings have been banned. All national parks, major cultural tourist attractions, wildlife parks, and national museums are closed, and tour groups are prohibited. Visit the local government COVID-19 website for updated information.

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo has suspended routine visa services.  For American Citizens Services, including emergency passports, please visit our website for additional information.

 On March 14, the Department of State authorized the departure from any diplomatic or consular post in the world of US personnel and family members who have been medically determined to be at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19.

Visit the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health Epidemiology Unit COVID-19 website for updated health information.

 Actions to Take: