Sri Lanka bans travellers from Gulf states for two weeks, citing Covid-19

Senior official said restrictions will be in place from June 30 until July 13

A security officer wearing protective gear stands next to passenger temperature scanning machine where she is on duty as Sri Lanka's government scheduled to reopen the country's airports for tourists from January 21, 2021, as they were closed since March 2020 due to spread of  coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake, Sri Lanka January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
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The Sri Lankan government imposed a two-week ban on airline passengers from Gulf states on Tuesday, citing coronavirus rules but without elaborating.

The civil aviation authority said anyone who had been in the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain or Kuwait in the past 14 days was not permitted to fly to Colombo.

The reason for the ban was unclear. Travel from Sri Lanka to several Gulf countries including UAE has been prohibited since May.

Sri Lanka suffered a series of spikes in coronavirus case numbers at about the same time as cases in India surged, although not on the same scale.

Daily cases have hovered around 2,000 in the past week, in a country with a population of about 22 million. In May, daily cases were about 3,600.

Capt Themiya Abeywickrama, director general of Sri Lanka's civil aviation authority, told local media that passengers passing through Gulf states were permitted.

In a statement on its website, Emirates Airline, said: "Effective June 30 until July 13, customers will not be accepted for travel on Emirates to Colombo."

It said passengers can rebook their flights or choose alternatives.

On Tuesday, the UAE extended restrictions on passengers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka until July 21, national carrier Etihad Airways said.

A ban on passengers from India began in April and was expanded to the other three countries on May 12, after each of them reported the Delta coronavirus strain.

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Updated: June 30, 2021, 4:03 AM