President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has taken a number of decisions to avoid impact on the people and the economy when imposing travel restrictions from 11.00 pm today (21) as a step to contain the spread of COVID 19.
During a discussion with the Presidential Task Force on COVID 19 at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (21), the President briefed the Ministers and relevant officials on the steps to be taken in this regard.
Steps should be taken to keep factories, pharmacies, shipping lines open and continue the production in bakeries as well as the distribution of food items during the travel restricted period. The President also instructed the relevant authorities to distribute essential food items to the public without any shortage using mobile services at the divisional level.
It was also instructed to provide the confiscated essential consumer goods that had been illegally imported into the country, to Sathosa and to assign the recruits from the 100,000 job opportunity programme to pack essential goods in Sathosa warehouses island-wide.
It was decided to issue the necessary permits by the Divisional Secretaries for the distribution of essential goods and to deploy the Army along with the police for the convenience of the roadblock operations.
The President also stressed that these travel restrictions should not impede regular daily cleaning routines including garbage disposal in all cities, road development and other constructions, agricultural activities, and to issue permits to transport the produce to the economic centers prior to the day they are scheduled to open.
The President also instructed the health authorities that if a person was tested positive for COVID 19 following the testing conducted at either a government or a private entity, the responsibility of treating them should also be given to the respective institution that conducted the testing.
It was also decided to use the facilities of the Ayurvedic hospital system in treating COVID 19 patients.
Although travel restrictions will be lifted on May 25th and 28th, the public will only be allowed to leave their homes to buy essential consumer goods. Several vaccines ordered from other countries will arrive in Sri Lanka shortly. The President emphasized the need to expedite the vaccination programme and contain the situation immediately.
President Rajapaksa said that instead of appearing unnecessarily in front of the media and intimidating the public, the government officials and responsible personnel should inform him directly about any issues.
President Rajapaksa added that the decisions taken up to now and to be taken in the future would be taken on the advice of the relevant expert groups and that he would not hesitate to take any decision for the sake of the people of the country.
The Ministers briefed the President on the steps that have been taken to meet the needs of the people during the travel restricted periods.
President Rajapaksa noted that it is the responsibility and duty of the people to follow the instructions given by the health sector to make the government programme to control the pandemic a success.
Ministers Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Gamini Lokuge, Johnston Fernando, Bandula Gunawardana, Prasanna Ranatunga, Ramesh Pathirana, Namal Rajapaksa, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, State Ministers Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Shasheendra Rajapaksa, Channa Jayasumana, MP Madhura Withanage, Senior Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Commanders of the three Armed Forces and the Heads of the Health sector were also present at the discussion.