The government says it will not hesitate to reach the decision to close the country at any instance recommended by the Ministry of Health.
Speaking during the weekly Cabinet decisions media briefing at the Department of Government Information Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said the government is not of the stubborn stance that the country should not be closed.
Trade unions have warned that private and state sector services will launch a strike if the government fails to reach a decision to close the country by Friday, to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
When inquired on the matter Minister Alahapperuma said the necessary recommendations must be tabled by the health sector.
The Minister said there are around two million persons employed in the state sector and pensioners, while eight million persons have no source of income.
He noted therefore the government must be sensitive towards the eight million.
Minister Alahapperuma said however the government is flexible adding that the Health Ministry must provide guidance in this regard.
He added no faction influences decisions reached by the Health Ministry.
Responding to allegations against the government over its failure to close the country thus far to control the spread of COVID-19, Co-Cabinet Spokesman Minister Ramesh Pathirana said the country was closed in several occasions previously adding that those without a regular income were burdened in such instances.
Joining the media briefing Minister Pathirana said the government spent over Rs.80 billion to provide relief to such persons.
The Minister said however the country is facing a difficult situation financially, and therefore concerns have arisen over continuing to provide concessions to such individuals.
He further noted the spread of the virus was only temporarily contained during the previous instances when the country was closed, adding sufficient results were not obtained in all instances.
The Minister said therefore necessary provincial travel restrictions and school closures are in place while offices can function with minimum staff as required.
He stressed however the government will not hesitate to take necessary steps based on advice issued by the Health Ministry and experts.
The Minister said practical concerns have also arisen when implementing certain decisions, adding the government will take forward the decision based on the socio-economic situation in the country.