Tourism project under fire as Ukraine enters lockdown

COLOMBO (News1st): Opposition lawmakers questioned the government’s decision to fly down Ukrainian tourists as part of a pilot tourism project amidst COVID-19 as Ukraine entered a 17-day nationwide lockdown.

“New strains of the virus have been detected in Ukraine,” Rajitha Senaratne, a Samagi Jana Balawegaya lawmaker observed during a parliamentary debate on Friday.

Senaratne queried the grounds on which Ukrainian tourists are allowed to tour the country while safari jeep drivers who came into contact with the Ukrainians have been subjected to quarantine.

“The safari jeep drivers who attempted to earn a living have ultimately ended up in quarantine centres for 14 days,” the opposition parliamentarian pointed out.

He also raised concerns on the repatriation of Sri Lankan workers citing that the process incurs a massive cost due to the inclusion of paid quarantine at hotels.

“A notion has emerged that paid quarantine would be made mandatory. It is not compulsory,” Namal Rajapaksa, the minister of youth and sports said.

He claimed that more than 45,000 workers who returned to the country have undergone quarantine at state-run centres without a cost.

The minister said that the number of repatriation flights is to be increased next week following discussions with the Prime Minister.

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