President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday took several decisions to minimise the difficulties faced by the public and to ensure that the economy will not be negatively affected due to islandwide travel restrictions which came into effect yesterday night as a measure to control the spread of COVID-19.
During a discussion with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday morning (21), the President briefed the Ministers and relevant officials on the steps to be taken in this regard, the President’s Media Division said.The President said steps should be taken to keep factories and pharmacies open, continue to distribute bakery products and keep shipping lines and their distribution centres open during restrictions. The President also instructed the relevant sectors to distribute essential food items to the people without any shortage using mobile services locally.
It was instructed to hand over the essential consumer goods that had been illegally imported and confiscated to Sathosa and to use the recruits to the 100,000 job programme to help in the packaging process at Sathosa warehouses islandwide.
It was decided to issue the necessary permits by the Divisional Secretaries for the distribution of essential goods and to deploy the Army along with the Police to facilitate road block operations.
The President also stressed that these travel restrictions should not be an impediment to carrying out daily cleaning, road development and other constructions, including agricultural activities and garbage disposal in all cities.
The President also instructed the health authorities to assign the responsibility of treating those infected persons directly to the relevant institution if they are identified by the test results of Government or private institutions conducting PCR tests.
It was also decided to use the facilities of the Ayurvedic hospital system in the treatment of the patients. Although the travel restrictions will be lifted on May 25 and 28, people will only be allowed to leave their homes to purchase essential consumer goods.
Several vaccine stocks will be delivered to the country in the coming days. The President emphasized the need to expedite the vaccination drive and control the situation as soon as possible.
President Rajapaksa said that instead of appearing unnecessarily in front of the media and creating unneccesary fear in the public mind, Government officials and responsible persons should inform him directly about any issue.
President Rajapaksa said that the decisions taken so far and in the future would be taken on the advice of the relevant expert groups and that he would not hesitate to take any correct decision on behalf of the people.
Ministers briefed the President on the steps taken to meet the needs of the people during the period of travel restrictions.
President Rajapaksa stated that it is the responsibility and duty of the people to follow the instructions given by the health sector to make the Government’s program to control the pandemic a success.
Ministers Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Gamini Lokuge, Johnston Fernando, Bandula Gunawardena, Prasanna Ranatunga, Ramesh Pathirana, Namal Rajapaksa, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Ministers of State Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Shashindra Rajapaksa and Channa Jayasumana, Madura Vithanage MP, Principal Advisor to the president Lalith Weeratunga, the Commanders of the three Armed Forces and the Heads of Health sector were also present.