After nearly eleven months' closure due to COVID-19; India's neighbouring country - Sri Lanka, has just opened its doors to international adventurers and travellers for the first time since its borders were sealed back in March 2020. On January 21 2021, operations fully resumed at the country's two international airports to host commercial flights.
Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando ascribed to it as a "new concept" promoted by the tourism authority - which enables tourists to travel the country in roving semi-isolated groups or "bio bubbles" that let tourists and travellers sightsee without blending with the local population.
However, travellers aren't exactly free to go where they choose. Sri Lanka's "new travel concept" allows holidaymakers to move around the island provided they:
- Stay in certified hotels
- Visit approved sites at particular times
- Tour via independent transportation
- Undergo continual Covid-19 testing, and
- Abstain from intermingling with the local population
While there are no quarantine restrictions, travellers also will need negative results from a PCR test taken within 96 hours of their departure to enter Sri Lanka, another PCR test upon arrival, and a third to be taken between five and seven days later. PCR tests at the destination come at a cost of about USD 40.
After 14 days, visitors can venture out into the local community but must wear masks in all public spaces, observe social distancing and sanitize their hands often. They're also required to activate a mobile app for tracing purposes and are instructed to refrain from using public transportation as much as possible and use cashless payment options wherever possible to keep interpersonal contact to a minimum.
According to the reports, visitors are permitted to explore select tourism sites, including popular attractions, safaris and national parks.
There are currently no exemptions provided for those who have received COVID-19 vaccinations, so all travellers will need to adhere to the prescribed testing protocols and movement restrictions.