COVID-19: Home quarantine likely for expats returning to Sri Lanka from the UAE

The government of Sri Lanka is looking to amend the quarantine rules for its citizens entering the country from the UAE.

Nalinda Wijerathna, Consul General of Sri Lanka, told Gulf News the government was looking at allowing its citizens, particularly those who have completed their two doses of vaccination, to home quarantine upon arrival in Sri Lanka from the UAE. “The discussion is going on at the moment. We will likely hear something on this matter soon,” the consul general said.

According to Wijerathna, currently, Sri Lankan expatriates heading home have to be in mandatory quarantine for two weeks. “They have two options. Sri Lankans heading home can either avail the government-led free quarantine facility or they can opt for paid quarantine at a hotel when they arrive.”

Wijerathna said hotel quarantine rates are approximately Rs7,500 (Dh140 approximately) per person per day on sharing basis at a good hotel. For single-room occupancy, the charge is Rs12,500 per person per night.

Regarding blue collar workers and domestic help, Wijerathna clarified that if they opt for paid hotel quarantine, then it is up to the individual or his/her sponsor to foot the hotel charges.

Wijerathna added: “A PCR test needs to be done 72 hours prior to travel from UAE. Upon arrival, another test is done. Discussions are on by the government of Sri Lanka to allow travellers into the country from UAE.”

He elaborated that the consulate has been actively lending a hand to expats needing any help or advise with respect to rules and regulations going home. “But largely now, as the numbers of repatriation and other travel needs dropping, we have handed the responsibility to the airlines.” He said those opting for free government quarantine, can travel only by Sri Lankan airlines. “The government of Sri Lanka has tied up with our local airlines for this. However, those opting for paid quarantine at hotels can use any airline to head home,” the consul general said.

Wijerathna added that the procedure to visit Sri Lanka still remains the same. “There are no other new regulations in place so far. People need to just get their PCR tests done prior to travel and take another test upon arrival. Quarantine remains a must.”

Wijerathna, meanwhile, shared the country’s latest safety protocols for tourists from the UAE travelling to Sri Lanka, which are as follows:

1. Airlines do not require Civil Aviation Authority’s prior approval for non-Sri Lankan tourists from the UAE.

2. There is no mandatory minimum stay.

3. Prior to departure, it is mandatory for the passenger to have a hotel booking for up to 14 days of stay in a certified, safe and secure Level 1 hotel.

4. It is mandatory for travellers to make payments to the hotel or travel agent for the PCR tests when making hotel bookings.

5. The hotel or travel agent need to send an email regarding travel details, including insurance etc.

6. Sri Lanka Tourism on its part will inform and coordinate with the immigration and emigration departments and assist the passenger.

Wijerathna said the above protocols were shared by the authority on February 7 in a letter addressed to all airlines.

Disclaimer :

Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect World Forum for Sri Lankan Muslims (wfslm.org) point-of-view.

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