News

Strict rules for first pandemic Independence 

  • RATs for guests with high temperature 

  • President expected at 8.30 a.m. 

 

Sri Lanka will celebrate its 73rd Independence Day, the first since the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, as well as the first in history carried out amidst a pandemic, today (4). 

The official ceremony is set to take place today at Independence Square, Colombo, with the participation of a limited number of guests who would have to undergo strict temperature checks, and even rapid antigen tests (RATs) if their temperature is high. 

Media personnel covering the event and participants in the cultural pageant have been subjected to PCR tests. In fact, the participants have had to spend three weeks in a biosecure bubble without any external interactions. Members of the public will also not be allowed to attend. 

All 1,898 members of the clergy, political leaders, foreign dignitaries, special guests, and members of the tri-forces attending the event as guests will be subjected to temperature checks and RATs on requirement prior to their admittance, State Ministry of National Security, Home Affairs, and Disaster Management Additional Secretary K.G. Dharmathilaka told The Morning yesterday (3). 

“If a guest records a high temperature, they will only be admitted to the ceremony if they consent to undergo a RAT,” he noted. 

The performers in the ceremony, of which 80 are schoolchildren who have been in isolation for three weeks, will be released from isolation following the ceremony after being subjected to RATs, Dharmathilaka said. He added that all participants including the squadrons partaking in the Independence Day parade will be wearing facemasks at all times. 

“This is the pride of our country, so we must celebrate it, following the guidelines in a way that the health situation allows it,” Dharmathilaka claimed. 

All the tri-forces personnel participating in the parade and related aspects are within a biosecure bubble at present, having undergone regular PCR testing and having had no contact from and with the outside, Army Commander General Shavendra Silva said yesterday. 

Media personnel participating in the ceremony coverage have also been subjected to PCR tests and were set to receive their test results yesterday, The Morning learnt from the Department of Government Information. 

The ceremony will officially begin with the arrival of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at 8.30 a.m. 

The President’s address to the nation will be followed by the armed forces’ parade of squadrons consisting of 5,683 personnel from the tri-forces, the Police, and the Civil Security Force. The parade will be followed by several cultural events. 

The ceremony is scheduled to conclude by 10 a.m. 

Traffic restrictions have been imposed on several roads around the Independence Square from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.