Tourists in Sri Lanka only have to spend one day in quarantine if they have had their Covid jabs but some ‘bio bubble’ rules still apply. Rose Dykins reports
Sri Lanka has joined the list of destinations that is easing entry restrictions for tourists who have had their Covid-19 vaccine – reducing their mandatory quarantine time on to just one day. (Advice for UK travellers to Sri Lanka can be found here.)
After this, though, they must still abide by the nation’s “bio-bubble” restrictions for seven days (rather than 14).
Previously – since January – Sri Lanka has been operating a “bio-bubble” system, whereby international leisure travellers must complete a 14-day quarantine in an approved “Covid-safe” hotel.
During this time, they must take regular Covid-19 tests, and be covered by travel insurance, but they are still allowed to visit certain approved tourist sites at designated times. Travel to attractions needs to happen via a travel agent or transport arranged by their hotel, and they must refrain from interacting with locals.
Sri Lanka’s health ministry has now updated its existing quarantine regulations to allow its citizens and foreign visitors to enter the country two weeks after they’ve had their final dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
On arrival, they must take a PCR test, and spend 24 hours in a state-mandated hotel, until a negative result comes through.
Upon arrival in Sri Lanka, Vaccine VIPS must produce their original vaccination certificate and a copy translated into English (if it is in another language). They will then be transported by government authorities to their designated hotel or quarantine facility for the next 24 hours, while their PCR test result from an approved testing lab comes through.
Once this happens, they will be free to leave quarantine, having obtained a “discharge document” from the quarantine authority at the hotel or accommodation they have been staying in. This document needs to show the date of their PCR sample collection and their test result.However, this does not quite mean vetted Vaccine VIPs are free to travel wherever they like in Sri Lanka after 24 hours. In fact, according the guidelines, national “bio bubble” rules still apply to them for the first seven days of their trip.
Therefore, they must stay in the same hotel for this time and stick to certain “bio bubble” restrictions when it comes to visiting attractions. They are, however, allowed to book their own transport, provided they stick to national Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.
Essentially, the new rules mean that Vaccine VIPs will bypass a week of the Sri Lanka’s mandatory bio bubble restrictions. Once they have followed the rules for seven days, they can take a second PCR test, and are free to travel wherever they like around the country and mingle with locals.
The layers of protocols travellers face upon arrival in Sri Lanka may seem complex, but they at least allow inbound travellers to experience the country safely during their quarantine.
However, they also reveal how while Vaccine VIPs benefit from fewer travel restrictions in some countries, there is no one universal set of rules, and travellers should check specific entry requirements each time – even if they are fully vaccinated.