Colombo resumed economic activities on Monday after Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced that public and private sector employees could re-start work after over a month since a curfew was declared on March 20 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police said although a curfew would continue in Colombo and on the outskirt of Gampaha, the public could re-start work in order to get the economy back on track, reports Xinhua news agency.
Thousands of police and military personnel were deployed in Colombo and on the outskirts to ensure health guidelines were maintained while public transport such as trains and buses are available only to transport employees to work.
Police said employees had to produce some proof of employment to the law officers and to transport workers before boarding trains and buses.
Offices were also urged to maintain strict health guidelines and operate under limited staff while the others were told to remain indoors due to the curfew.
Supermarkets and grocery stores also re-opened to the public for them to purchase essential items while restaurants, cinemas and shopping malls would remain closed until further notice.
Banks also resumed normal operations, police said.
In several areas across Colombo, medical workers were seen checking body temperatures and urging employees to wash their hands before entering their workplaces.
Offices would operate under limited working hours with public sector employees urged to travel back home between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., while private sector employees will be allowed to travel back home between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to avoid traffic congestion on the roads, police said.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that while the government and private sector institutions have begun functioning with a limited number of employees, the number of passengers on trains and buses will be limited.
However, schools and tuition classes will remain closed until further notice.
Mahinda Rajapaksa urged people to maintain social distancing rules when commencing work in this phased manner.
“We should all be aware that even though the spread of coronavirus has been brought under control, it has not been eradicated completely. Random sample testing among members of the public will continue to be carried out. The quarantine centres will be kept open,” he added.
Sri Lanka has so far recorded over 850 COVID-19 cases, with nine deaths.