ÀNI News Covid-19 Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is now open to travelers – no quarantine

Source: CNBC February 17, 2021

We get a lot of questions about Covid protocols, what’s allowed, where you can travel, where you can’t – Here’s an interesting article from CNBC about Sri Lanka – and ÀNI Sri Lanka

To quarantine or not to quarantine — that is the question.

Or at least it has been for countries deliberating how to handle incoming international travelers.

But that changed last month when Sri Lanka reopened its borders with a requirement unlike any country that had opened before it —  one that neither grants travelers free rein of the island nor boxes them into a hotel room for two weeks. 

Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando referred to it as a “new concept” developed by the tourism authority — which allows tourists to travel the country in “bio bubbles,” or roving semi-isolated groups that let travelers sightsee without mixing with the local population.

The rules apply for the first two weeks of their stay.

Rules of the ‘bio bubble’

When Sri Lanka reopened its borders on Jan. 21, it became one of very few Asian countries — including the Maldives — to allow international travelers to enter without being subject to strict quarantines.

But tourists aren’t exactly free to go where they choose. Sri Lanka’s “bio bubbles” allow holidaymakers to move around the island provided they:
· Stay in approved hotels
· Visit approved sites at specific times
· Travel via independent transportation
· Undergo frequent Covid-19 testing, and
· Refrain from intermingling with the local population

These rules must be followed for the first two weeks upon entering Sri Lanka. Thereafter, guests are free to “interact with the local community” and move “to an accommodation of their choice,” according to a safety booklet produced by the country’s Ministry of Tourism.

The plan was first tested in a pilot project with Ukrainian tourists in late December of 2020.

Where travelers can stay

As of Feb. 17, there are 98 certified “Level 1” hotels where travelers can stay during the first two weeks of a trip. The list includes hotels and villas in tourist hotspots such as Bentota, Galle, Kandy and Sri Lanka’s capital city of Colombo.

The hotels cover a range of budgets, from guest houses in the surfing paradise of Hikkaduwa, to tented lodges near Yala National Park and the ultra-luxurious Ani Villas in Dickwella. 

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