Govt. has no clear plan for tourist arrivals: UNP

Saturday, 16 January 2021 00:32 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Reiterates concerns of new variants entering SL
  • Questions why Ukraine tourists allowed even after that country imposed lockdown
  • Wants transparent, coherent and accountable process to oversee arrivals

With less than a week to go before borders are reopened, the United National Party (UNP) yesterday charged that the Government had no clear plan to manage tourist arrivals, alleging that a decision to continue with a pre-planned cricket tour with the England team paved the way for a new strain of COVID-19 to enter Sri Lanka.

The UNP issuing a press release questioned who would take responsibility for the continued health threat reopening posed to locals. 

"On 21 December over 40 countries, including France and Germany, closed their borders to the United Kingdom following the outbreak of the new strain of the virus. However, the Sri Lankan Government proceeded with the pre-planned cricket tour by the English team.

 The touring team has since brought the new strain of the virus into the country through one of their players" the UNP stated, pointing out that medical experts had indicated that this strain of the virus was 70% more infectious and had seen over 50,000 cases reported on a daily basis in the UK.

The opposition party also charged that the recent Japanese travel ban on business travellers from Sri Lanka was due to the new strain being detected locally after the visit of the English Cricket team and said that it would strain business relations with Japan. 

The UNP also called for an explanation from the Sports Minister why the Sri Lankan Cricket team, which returned from South Africa, was exempt from the established quarantine procedure. 

"Separately the Government has also permitted the continued arrival of the Ukrainian tourists despite Ukraine currently undergoing a nationwide lockdown due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. This ongoing tourism program has been organised by the former Ambassador to Russia and the Ukraine, Udayanga Weeratunga, who holds no official role in the Government. Despite a lack of quarantine procedures, these tourists have been permitted to visit tourist sites," the UNP stated, calling on the Government to stop ad-hoc decisions regarding arrivals and to stick to a transparent, coherent and accountable process when regulating overseas arrivals to the country. 

“The Government’s lack of leadership in this matter has resulted in the health and safety of the public being placed at grave risk. We urge the Government to clearly indicate who is making the final decisions regarding the arrivals in the country, and whether or not the relevant health authorities are being consulted when making these decisions.”