UNP concerned over Ukrainian tourists’ visit | Daily News

UNP concerned over Ukrainian tourists’ visit

The United National Party (UNP) has raised concerns over the ongoing tour by Ukrainian tourists around the country. Speaking to media yesterday former M.P. Sandith Samarasinghe accused the Government of placing the public at risk of a further spread of the COVID-19 virus by having brought tourists into the country without following any proper procedure.

According to global health statistics, Ukraine is currently listed as the 17th worst affected country by the virus. However, the Government has chosen to ignore these concerns and proceeded with a tour organised by an individual connected to the Government.

Despite strict health guidelines in place, including a mandatory 14 day quarantine for new arrivals, these tour groups have only been administered a five-day quarantine. Furthermore, it has been reported that six of these tourists had tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in the country.

Despite these concerns, Samarasinghe highlighted that the tour has gone ahead without following the pre-approved guidelines set out by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and the health authorities.

Over the weekend 28 jeep drivers were forced into quarantine after they were hired out by the organisers to take the tourists into the Yala National Park. These drivers had been hired from Tissamaharama, and were not part of the original group of drivers who would have adhered to strict bio-secure procedures.

The decisions taken by the tour organisers have been on an ad-hoc basis, with authorities not being officially notified of any changes.

Local tourist establishments, which are already suffering from a lack of business, are not expected to see any major improvements through these tour groups. Hotels which are accommodating these tour groups have been forced to reduce their daily room rates by half. Locals who wished to travel around the country during the Christmas holidays were forced to adhere to numerous health guidelines, however, it appears as though these restrictions do not apply to the tour groups. The UNP urges the government to reconsider this ongoing tour in light of the growing concern over the spread of COVID-19 in Europe and the blatant disregard of the health authorities’ instructions. An emergence of a new cluster of COVID-19 cases due to the tour groups will only serve to further damage the country’s already floundering economy, the party said.