Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Colombo, Sri Lanka (March 31, 2020) 

Location:  Sri Lanka

Event:  COVID-19 in Sri Lanka

Recent Updates: These updates are being sent daily for the benefit of new registrants in STEP.  New information is listed in the top bullets:

  • The Sri Lanka Ministry of Health confirmed 122 cases of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka 

  • The following airlines are still providing very limited commercial flights departing Sri Lanka: Sri Lankan Airlines and Qatar Airways.

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.

If an American Citizen is determined to have COVID-19, he or she is likely to be placed in mandatory quarantine in a local government hospital, consistent with Sri Lankan protocols.  The Embassy is severely limited in its ability to visit individuals under quarantine and may be unable, as a practical matter, to secure the release of U.S. citizens until their complete recovery.

The number of commercial flights departing Sri Lanka has significantly diminished.  Flight schedules and availability change frequently.  In Sri Lanka, all incoming passenger arrivals have been suspended indefinitely.  Aircraft departures, passenger connections, and transits to other flights are permitted.  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.  There are no plans for chartered or other evacuation flights from Sri Lanka to the United States.  

The Sri Lankan government declared an island-wide curfew as of 2 p.m. on March 26, 2020.  Changes to the curfew are being announced on short notice.  Travel to the airport for ticketed passengers will be permitted. However, travelers will need to use alternate routes due to the closure of expressways. Travelers should be prepared to show their passports and airline tickets at checkpoints.  Taxi drivers will be allowed to return from the airport if they have a copy of their passenger’s ticket.

 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.