Sri Lanka protests: Is it safe for tourists and what’s the latest government advice?

Sri Lanka is under a nationwide curfew after violent anti-government protests erupted across the country in March.

The island country is a popular destination among backpackers and tourists, but what does the security situation mean for travelers?

Several countries, including the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeThey have updated their travel advice for Sri Lanka. Other countries, such as New Zealand, Australia and Ireland, have warned against “travel only when necessary” to the South Asian country.

What is happening in Sri Lanka?

Over the past few months, an unprecedented economic crisis has led to shortages of basic commodities such as medicine and cooking gas, as well as widespread power outages.

Mass demonstrations against the government erupted in late March, and protesters clashed with government supporters and armed police. More than 200 people were injured and at least eight were killed during the unrest.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Resigned on Monday. But the protesters are also demanding his brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to step down. Thousands demonstrated outside his office in the capital, Colombo.

The demonstrators also burned dozens of homes and cars belonging to senior politicians.

How do you keep yourself safe

The Sri Lankan government declared a “state of emergency” on 6 May. This means that they have the authority to issue security announcements – such as curfews – at short notice.

Be sure to regularly check local news and official updates, as well as refer to your government’s travel advice.

Foreign governments, including the United Kingdom, have advised visitors to avoid protest areas, where demonstrations have at times become violent and police have responded with tear gas and water cannons.

The protests centered around the capital, Colombo, where several violent incidents occurred in the Galle Face region. But be careful wherever you go, because turmoil is all over the country.

Can you go out in Sri Lanka despite the curfew?

Under the curfew, it is not allowed to go out and walk around.

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Tourists are advised to stay in the hotel or stay until their departure time.

Authorities say travelers can show their passports and airline tickets to bypass the curfew on their way to the airport.

It’s a good idea to check with the airline and taxis before setting off, as widespread strikes can also disrupt flights.

Will my leave be cancelled?

Sri Lanka is often described as “A year-round destination“Due to its warm climate, many people may plan to visit during the summer months.

Despite the unrest, most tour operators have not canceled scheduled flights to the country, but some have changed itineraries to include more time at coastal resorts, which are far from protest touchpoints. It is always worth asking which company you booked with.

If you decide that you want to cancel your vacation on your own, keep in mind that travel insurance companies are unlikely to cover you, especially if your home country does not advise against traveling to Sri Lanka.

Are there still restrictions on COVID-19 in Sri Lanka?

In addition to the security situation, it is also important to keep in mind the ongoing coronavirus restrictions in Sri Lanka.

Those who still wish to travel to the country need to fill out a health declaration form and purchase COVID-19 insurance for around €11.50.

Fully vaccinated visitors are not required to take a PCR test prior to departure, but unvaccinated travelers must do the tests prior to departure and upon arrival.

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