Sri Lanka is reopening to international visitors from 21 January after being closed for ten months, but strict COVID-19 protocols have been put in place.

Authorities have implemented safety guidelines and precautionary measures for those arriving to take in the country's many beaches, timeless ruins and welcoming people. This includes completion of a health declaration form that should be submitted prior to boarding a flight or upon arrival in Sri Lanka. Visitors will be required to produce a negative PCR test taken up to 96 hours before their arrival. They must undergo two further tests for a visit of up to seven days, and three if their stay is for a duration of more than a week.

High-angle view of Nine Arches Bridge in Sri Lanka
There are new safety protocols for visitors to Sri Lanka © aksenovden/Shutterstock

Travelers must show proof of a booking at one of the country's 55 certified ‘Safe & Secure’ hotels, which local residents can't frequent, with the exception of staff. The hotel should arrange independent transport for each group of visitors from the airport. They are not permitted to move outside the hotel for a period of up to 14 days; except for trips to approved tourist sites during allocated timeslots. These have to be conducted under a bio-security bubble, provided the on-arrival PCR test is negative. Travelers are also free to stay at more than one certified hotel during the first 14 day period.

After the 14-day period, the traveler is then permitted to leave the hotel as long as their PCR test results are negative. They can move to any accommodation of their choice and interact with the community at that point. Travelers will be required to purchase travel insurance costing $12 (€9.90) that will cover up to $50,000 (€41,239) in virus-related medical costs. Those who have spent up to two weeks in the UK before arriving will not be allowed to enter the country, and flights remain banned from there in an effort to keep out a more contagious coronavirus variant.

A waterfall in Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has made preparations for welcoming visitors again © Jaromír Chalabala/500px

“It is with great pleasure and excitement we announce that Sri Lanka will be open for tourism from Thursday,” says Kimarli Fernando, chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. “As we open our doors to the world once again, we have pulled out all the stops, ensuring that every precautionary measure has been set in place to make the island getaway as safe, secure and serene as possible for the visitors.”

Further information can be found on Sri Lanka Tourism's website here.

This article was first published on 9 June 2020 and updated on 18 January 2021.

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This article was first published June 2020 and updated January 2021

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