The travel restrictions currently in force will continue until June 7, the Government announced. Speaking at a special media briefing, Highways Minister Johnston Fernando announced that restrictions will be relaxed on May 31 and June 4. However, the islandwide lockdown will continue in the same manner that it has been during the last few days, until June 7.
Restrictions will again be relaxed from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. on May 31 for people to purchase essentials and medication. Thereafter, the restrictions will again be re-enforced from 11 p.m. on May 31 until 4 a.m. on June 4. The restrictions will again come into effect from 11 p.m. on June 4 and will continue till 4 a.m. on June 7.
Minister Fernando said during the temporary relief period the public are urged to use the nearest retail shops to buy commodities without using their vehicles and to avoid traveling to cities and towns in their private vehicles disregarding health guidelines.
“This temporary lifting of restrictions does not mean the total lifting of restrictions and therefore, only one member is allowed to go out of their households for shopping and such persons are requested to come home once their requirements are met,” he added.
“Only retail grocery shops, pharmacies, fish markets, bakeries, filling stations and shops selling essential food items will be permitted to open on May 31 and June 4,” Minister Fernando also added.
Accordingly, the Minister encouraged those engaged in farming to continue their activities while requesting mobile services to sell vegetables and other food items to the public when travel restrictions are in effect. “Such services render a great service to the country in controlling the possible spread of the pandemic. The Divisional Secretariat Offices of the respective areas will issue permits for this purpose,” he noted.
Minister Fernando further said that at a special meeting presided by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Inspector General of Police, C. D. Wickremaratne has been advised to strictly implement the law against those misusing the travel permits, official IDs or passes during the travel restrictions.
He further said that all the liquor shops islandwide will remain closed until June 7. The Peliyagoda Fish Market will also be closed on May 27 and 28 in view of the Vesak Full Moon Poya Day.
Speaking at the media briefing, Chief of Defence Staff, Army Commander and Head, National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), General Shavendra Silva said that individuals will not be permitted to travel in vehicles to their towns and they are requested to make their purchases from the nearest store close to their residences. He requested the citizens to assist the Government, Police and the Security Forces in this massive effort to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said that Police personnel will stop vehicles to ascertain the driver’s or owner’s place of residence to ensure that they do not travel beyond their vicinity to the towns or out of the district. He also said that parking of vehicles on public roads will not be allowed unless it is a delivery vehicle or a vehicle engaged in essential services.
The Police Spokesperson also said that attention has been drawn to individuals who have been misusing vehicle permit stickers belonging to doctors to travel about. He said that the law will be strictly enforced against individuals who misuse such privileges. The Air Force and Police will also conduct drone operations to nab those who violate the travel restrictions and quarantine laws. This programme began from Colombo and suburbs.