A section of England fans, who decided to visit Sri Lanka despite the postponement of the two-Test series, is now stuck at the Sri Lankan airport after the country closed its borders to travellers from the UK amid the outbreak of coronavirus.
A Barmy Army member endured hours of wait at the Bandaranaike airport in Colombo before finally being allowed entry into the country.
"For the public to hear that it could last for 12 months, people are going to be really upset about that and pretty worried about that." – Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, in a Public Health England document.https://t.co/xEYF1tFv7d
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) March 15, 2020
Chris Millard, the managing director of the Barmy Army, told PA: “One of our members, who was held at Colombo airport for several hours, has now been allowed in, and has informed the Barmy Army that there will be no more flights following from the UK.”
The Test series was supposed to begin on March 19 in Galle, according to which fans had planned their itineraries in Sri Lanka. However, with the coronavirus – Covid-19 – sharply gaining intensity over the last week, leading to WHO officially terming it a global pandemic, sporting events the world over have been cancelled or postponed.
A couple of days after the Sri Lanka series was called off, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a statement, specifying that no person from the UK, or who has travelled through UK, would be allowed to enter Sri Lanka from March 15, 1830 GMT.
The clampdown comes after Covid-19 cases crept up in Sri Lanka over the last week, with the figure moving into double digits by Saturday. The number infected in the UK, meanwhile, have risen to 1372.
“We are aware that over 50 of our members are currently in Sri Lanka and several more have travelled over the weekend. Our official travel programme still had 20 members wanting to go on the trip as a holiday, even with the cricket cancelled, but their flights have now been cancelled too,” Millard added.
“We are in open communications with the Sri Lanka Cricket board, tour operators and airlines to try and help our members get home safely. If anyone is out there and wants to speak to us, feel free to get in touch.”