By BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka has lifted a six-week national lockdown as COVID-19 cases and deaths decline but movement restrictions remain in place. The lockdown was imposed Aug 20 and then extended three times as Sri Lanka grappled with an unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases and deaths since July due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant. Despite the end of the lockdown Friday, people are only allowed out for work or to buy essentials. Public gatherings are banned while cinemas, schools and restaurants will still be closed. Still, the move is hoped to boost tourism and ease a decline in foreign exchange that had led to a shortage of essential items such as milk powder, sugar, rice and cooking gas.