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About 340 people arrested in Sri Lanka for defying nationwide curfew

COLOMBO: Nearly 340 people have been arrested in Sri Lanka for defying a nationwide curfew imposed by the government to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 13,000 lives globally, police said on Sunday.

The suspects were apprehended from areas coming under several police stations.

Most of the total 338 people who were arrested were found loitering on the roads despite the curfew.

They were arrested for drinking at public places, driving on the roads, keeping their restaurants open, for unruly behaviour after drinking and selling merchandise during the curfew, the Colombo Page quoted police spokesman S P Jaliya Senaratne as saying.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office on Friday imposed a nationwide curfew from Friday until Monday to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The curfew which was to be lifted on Monday has been extended.

The President’s Media Division said the curfew has been extended till 6 am (local time) on Tuesday for the Colombo, Puttalam and Gampaha districts and will be reimposed at 2 pm (local time) that afternoon, the Colombo Gazette reported.

The curfew in other areas will be lifted at 6 am (local time) on Monday and reimposed at 2 pm (local time), it said.

All liquor outlets have been ordered to remain closed when the curfew is temporarily lifted, it added.

Sri Lankan police had previously restricted the curfew to night time in the western coastal areas, a move aimed at tracking down Italy returnees who were avoiding compulsory quarantine process.

The police said despite the curfew people were engaging in social activities, defying the need to maintain social distancing.

Countries around the world are sealing their borders and banning travel to stop the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed 13,048 lives with more than 307,277 cases reported in over 165 countries and territories, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

In view of the rising number of the novel coronavirus cases globally, Sri Lanka on Tuesday suspended all international flights arriving in the country.