By Ashanthi Warunasuriya
Sri Lanka has temporarily put on hold a travel bubble with India, the Tourism Ministry said today.
Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga told Colombo Gazette that the travel bubble has been put on hold as the coronavirus has begun to spread rapidly in India.
New Delhi enforced a lockdown yesterday after the deaths caused by the coronavirus saw a steep rise in the city.
Ranatunga said that the travel bubble will be implemented once the situation improves in India.
The Minister said that the health authorities in Sri Lanka will review the situation in India before deciding to permit the travel bubble between both countries.
Ranatunga said that the travel bubble with India was to be launched later this month.
He also said that Sri Lanka is in talks with a number of other countries with regards to a travel bubble.
The Minister however said that no final decision has been taken on launching a travel bubble with the other countries.
India had announced recently that it had finalised an air bubble agreement with Sri Lanka.
The Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation said that all the eligible passengers will be able to travel between the two countries in the near future.
Under the air bubble agreement between the two countries, special international passenger flights can be operated by their airlines into each other’s territories under restrictive conditions.
Discussions had commenced this year to resume flights between India and Sri Lanka as soon as possible under the air bubble concept.
A decision in this regard had been taken earlier this year following talks between Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga and Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay in order to boost tourism between the two countries.
India forwarded a proposal for an arrangement for an air travel bubble between the two countries.
The authorities from both counties later discussed the possibility of commencing flights under the air travel bubble concept adhering to health and safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Colombo Gazette)