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Groceries to stay open in lockdown areas

Grocery stores within areas that are under Covid-19 lockdowns have been permitted to remain open for the purchase of essential items, The Morning learnt.

Speaking to The Morning, National Operations Centre for Prevention of Covid-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) Task Force Head Army Commander Gen. Shavendra Silva said that grocery stores could remain open in lockdown areas for the purchase of necessary items, as long as they strictly adhere to social distancing practices.

Public Health Inspectors’ (PHIs) Union of Sri Lanka President Upul Rohana also told The Morning that grocery shops could remain open in lockdown areas exclusively for the utilisation of people within those areas.

He added that considering the period of lockdown in a particular area, permission would also be given for pharmacies to open for the sale of essential medicines.

Meanwhile, Gen. Silva also requested the public to not entertain any gatherings at their homes or private residences, in light of the escalation of the pandemic. He added: “Not having any visitors at home would be ideal.”

Amidst the spike in Covid-19 cases, new guidelines were issued last week, which included the banning of wedding receptions until 21 May, the prohibition of gatherings at both open and closed venues, and the closure of pubs, bars, casinos, nightclubs, betting centres, spas, cinemas, kids’ playgrounds, and swimming pools.

According to the Sri Lanka Institute of Health Policy, over 30 Grama Niladhari Divisions have been placed under lockdown since the final week of April. On 1 May, 23,631 PCR tests were conducted, of which 1,716 reported positive for Covid-19.