- Embassies have own procedures in relation to COVID-19 situ to which their staff should adhere to: Aviation Chief
- US diplomatic staff adhere carefully to SL COVID-19 guidelines: Embassy
By Lahiru Pothmulla and Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya
Officials at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), after consulting the relevant ministries, have allowed a senior diplomat of the US Embassy who arrived from Qatar to leave the airport without a PCR test yesterday morning.
Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited Chairman Maj. Gen. (Rtd.) G. A. Chandrasiri said that this was the first instance of a diplomat arriving in the country after COVID-19 protocols and standards were implemented.
“Since this was the very first case of someone with diplomatic immunity arriving, we consulted all relevant government officials including those at the Presidential Secretariat and Foreign Relations Ministry to follow, while the diplomat was waiting for four hours at the airport,” he said.
He said airport officials had also briefed embassy officials who arrived to pick the diplomat on how he should be examined by doctors at the embassy and undergo self-quarantine.
“Not that we need to, but we separately advised the Embassy officials of the process that should be followed for such arrivals. The embassies have their own programmes and procedures in relation to the COVID-19 situation to which such arriving officials should adhere to,” Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri said.
Meanwhile, AASL Vice Chairman Rajeewasiri Sooriyaarachchi told the Daily Mirror that the diplomat had refused to undergo a PCR test owing to diplomatic privileges.
When contacted over the incident, a US Embassy Spokesperson said US diplomatic staff adhere carefully to Sri Lankan COVID-19 guidelines, including quarantine restrictions, in close coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Relations.
“The arrival of US diplomatic staff to Sri Lanka also complies with the norms and procedures outlined in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, just as it applies to arrival of Sri Lankan and other diplomatic staff to the United States,” they said.