More arrive from Italy

A total of 100 passengers from Italy were scheduled to arrive in Colombo yesterday (14), mere hours before the government ban imposed on all flights originating from the country came into effect, The Sunday Morning reliably learnt.

When reached for comment, a senior official confirmed to The Sunday Morning last evening that 100 passengers were scheduled to land at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) within the day.

“We are now looking at a quarantining process for all countries. We have been handling these flights for the last two or three days. This is not a special flight because we handled 204 passengers from Italy on a previous flight. So they have gone through a compulsory quarantining process for a couple of days at the BIA,” Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd. (AASL) Director Shehan Sumanasekara said.

The Government last week imposed a ban on all flights originating from Italy, South Korea, and Iran effective from midnight on 14 March to contain the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

When The Sunday Morning contacted Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Director General H.M.C. Nimalasiri, he clarified that the ban on flights originating from Italy, South Korea, and Iran was effective from 14 March midnight, unlike the subsequent ban on countries such as France, Spain, and Germany.

Issuing a statement to all online carriers and offline carriers, the CAA on Saturday said that according to the instructions received from Sri Lankan health authorities, all travel originating from France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, and Austria to Sri Lanka will be banned from midnight on 15 March 2020 for two weeks up to 29 March.

“Accordingly, all airlines are strongly instructed not to board during the aforementioned period in any of their flights destined to Sri Lanka, any passenger who is either originating from the aforementioned states or who has been in any of those countries within the last 14 days. Your co-operation would be much valued,” the CAA statement stated.

AASL Director Sumanasekara further explained the logic behind the quarantine process: “The processes of quarantining is carried out based on the thinking that people will stop flying to Sri Lanka because they have to go for quarantining in a country where they came for holiday. That’s the idea rather than putting an embargo on these countries.

This is to discourage passengers travelling to Sri Lanka,” Sumanasekara added.