Colombo: Sri Lanka has gradually begun relaxing curfew as the coronavirus outbreak is now “under control to a certain degree”, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said on the eve of opening up economic activities in the country after nearly two months. Also Read - Sri Lanka Brings Back Home Its 113 Stranded Nationals From India Amid Lockdown

Rajapaksa said that relaxed measures would allow government and private sector institutions to start work from Monday with a limited number of employees. Also Read - Sri Lanka Intensifies Coronavirus Testing in Colombo Slums

Sri Lanka has been under a continuous lockdown since March 20, a week after the first local victim of the pandemic was reported.

The government said that Monday’s relaxation was meant to revive the economic activities after the long lay off and the public should limit their movements solely for work purposes. All restaurants, places of entertainment and schools will continue to be shut.

Senior police official in charge of COVID-19 prevention Ajith Rohana said the curfew will be continued in the four high-risk districts which includes capital Colombo.

The public and private sector employee must produce a letter from their employer which would allow them to travel during the curfew .

This is a step taken to restart the economic activities, still all must adhere to quarantine regulations by keeping the required social distancing,” Rohana said.

He said there will be specific times for the state and private sectors to reopen and close their institutions so that overcrowding could be avoided.

The Director-General Health Services, Anil Jasinghe said that the threat has not been eradicated yet. We are far from being reaching the pre-COVID-19 times,” Jasinghe said.

Health officials said eight more positive cases were reported on Sunday. The total number of cases has now risen to 855 with nine deaths. Over 340 people have been cured so far.