Sri Lanka police have been given sweeping powers to enforce COVID-19 quarantine norms.

They will impose the civic rules and social behaviour codes under quarantine law now enforced to halt the further spread of the pandemic. There will be no leniency or dilution of norms, a senior police officer said.

Law enforcement would carry out the mandate to maintain physical distancing. It would implement the directive to wear face masks in public, he claimed.

The police would patrol public places and residential neighbourhoods to detect violators of the epidemic control quarantine ordinance and slap fines or effect arrests, if necessary.

Plain clothed cops will be deployed to arrest social distancing violators .Police spokesman Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ajith Rohana said that it has been noticed in several areas, especially in parts of Colombo, that social distancing is not taken seriously.

DIG Rohana said that when the curfew is relaxed in some areas for the public to purchase essential goods, most people gather in groups and fail to ensure social distancing.

The Police spokesman said that while in the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic action could not be taken, the situation was now different as the coronavirus health regulations have been gazetted.

As a result, he said that several plain clothed policemen will be deployed to arrest social distancing violators and take them to quarantine centers.

The Police spokesman said that legal action will be filed against those who are arrested and taken to a quarantine center.

He also requested store owners to ensure social distancing is practised inside a shop.