Colombo, April 21 (IANS) Sri Lanka has announced June 20 as the new date for its parliamentary elections, after the initial plans to hold them on April 25 had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is hereby notified that the election for electing the members of Parliament for the aforesaid Electoral Districts will be held on 20th June 2020,” announced the official gazette of Sri Lanka late Monday.
The elections were initially scheduled for April 25, after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa ordered the dissolution of Parliament in the beginning of March, six months before its term was scheduled to end, reports Efe news.
These were set to be the country’s first parliamentary elections after Rajapaksa – considered a hero of the civil war against Tamil rebels – registered a landslide victory in presidential elections held in November.
However, the rapid spread of the highly contagious coronavirus infections forced the Sri Lankan authorities on March 19 to postpone the elections in a country that had 59 positive cases at the time.
Around the middle of last month, Sri Lanka also imposed a curfew, which was relaxed Monday in 19 of the country’s 25 districts, but restrictions on movement have been maintained in areas considered high-risk, such as Colombo.
Due to the economic impact of the lockdown, the government has encouraged the people to return to work but after taking adequate precautions, such as wearing a mask and maintaining social distance.
The curfew will be lifted in all areas between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m., although schools and cinemas will remain closed until further notice.
As of now, the curfew in high-risk areas is expected to continue until April 27.
On Monday, the country recorded 33 fresh cases of COVID-19, marking the highest infections in a single day.
The total coronavirus cases now stand at 304, with seven deaths.
The pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the tourism sector of this South Asian country, which was only just beginning to recover from the Easter Sunday terror attacks on April 21 last year that left over 250 dead.