Sri Lanka lifts inter-provincial travel ban

Sri Lanka lifts inter-provincial travel ban

Colombo: Sri Lanka on Sunday lifted its three-month-long inter-provincial travel ban, as the Coronavirus vaccination drive picks up pace in the country.

However, the travel permission as of now will only be extended to government employees on official duty. While public buses resumed services on Sunday, public trains will resume services on Monday.

Officials said over-crowding in the services will be strictly prohibited.

"We will allow buses to take passengers strictly limited to their seating capacity," said State Public Transport Minister Dilum Amunugama.

The inter-provincial travel will be permitted only to those on official duty, said senior health official Asela Gunawardena.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last week ordered the resumption of full state services from Monday (August 2). He cancelled circulars permitting work from home for government employees, in view of the widening vaccination drive.

This will be the first time public transport will be operational since late April. The tough travel restrictions were implemented after a tremendous spike in cases following the Sinhalese New Year in mid-April.

Meanwhile, public health officials remain wary of the government opening up services, as the country continues to record high number of daily virus cases, fuelled by the delta variant of COVID-19, which was first identified in India.

The number of daily cases has exceeded 2,000 every day in the last week, with nearly 250 deaths in this period.

Sri Lanka on Sunday morning began rolling out the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was stalled after India's Serum Institute could not meet supply orders.

Under the global COVAX facility, Sri Lanka received 724,000 vaccine doses from Japan on Saturday.

"We have opened up centres working 24 hours of the day from this morning to administer the second jab of AstraZeneca," said Head of COVID Prevention National Committee, Army Commander General Shavendra Silva. AGENCIES

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