Publication:

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - 2021-11-21

Data:

COVID rules kicked out of stadium inspite of much touted ‘One Country, One Law’

NEWS

The Government's popular political slogan of "One Country, One Law", now elevated to a Presidential Task Force, is repeatedly highlighted by its bigwigs whenever there is a controversy coming up to justify moves, but it seems the Government failed to apply the same principle to its own initiatives. If one were to be present at the inaugural grand finale of the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Trophy 2021 between Sri Lanka-Seychelles held on Friday at the Racecourse stadium in Colombo's Cinnamon gardens area, they might wonder whether we have returned to the normalcy of the pre-pandemic era. It was business as usual with disregard for the revised COVID- 19 health guidelines which were issued by the Health Ministry only a few days ago. The Rs. 1,000 tickets were sold quickly and non-mask wearing sports fans were seated in a packed auditorium. There was no social distancing or mandatory face masks. Sri Lankan football fans were disappointed when Seychelles beat Sri Lanka to win the inaugural tournament. Though the full- time score read 3-3, the result was decided in a penalty shootout (1-3). When asked why there was no action taken against these daytime COVID-19 violations in the stadium though random arrests of ordinary individuals were taking place for breaching the same guidelines, there was deafening silence from a senior Health Ministry official followed by the typical bureaucratic response of "We were not informed or aware of that incident." The Opposition was also alleging, and rightly so, that the Government introduced new COVID-19 regulations to prevent the mobilising of people who are unhappy about the skyrocketing cost of living and fertiliser crisis. Senior Government leaders continued to attend mass gatherings and public meetings this week without adhering to COVID-19 regulations. After all, it is the selective implementation of the law of the land and potential misuse of it against the Opposition parties.

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