Sri Lanka lifts lockdown, retains curfew at night

Ban on gatherings and parties remains

Sri Lanka on Friday lifted a near six-week lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 but maintained a night curfew and a ban on public gatherings and parties.

Daily deaths had jumped to over 250 with 4,000 infections after Sri Lankans celebrated the traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year in mid-April, but case numbers have since eased.

The Health Ministry has urged companies to encourage staff to work from home but there was no decision yet on reopening schools.

“It is imperative to maintain the progress made to curb COVID-19 infections and the dreaded daily death toll,” Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said.

Official figures show nearly 13,000 deaths, with more than half a million infections, but experts say the actual numbers could be at least twice as much.

The easing of restrictions came as the government aggressively pushes a vaccination drive, fully inoculating 56% of the population of 21 million. Numbers attending weddings and funerals will be restricted to a maximum of 10 till October 15.

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