Definite Guide on COVID-19 Measures from the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the implications for the Belize tourism industry and general population (image above United Airlines non-stop flight Denver to Belize arrival via BTB). Please note that while this article examines the new measures as they impact tourism, the new regulations affect all business establishments in Belize including banks and financial institutions. Tourists and nationals face daily challenges waiting in long lines to access banks, loan facilities, ATM machines, sporadic bank branch closures for decontamination, and most recently a shortage of foreign exchange caused by the economic crash, and other developments in the banking sector such as the takeover of Scotia Bank by the Belize Bank.
General Regulations For The Entire Country
Anyone with flu-like symptoms who believes he/she may have COVID-19 must inform the Ministry of Health.
A curfew will be imposed from 8:00PM to 5:00AM, and for children under 16 years old, from 6:00PM to 5:00AM.
A penalty of $500 will apply for those people caught not wearing a face mask or not wearing a face mask properly, or not respecting the six feet apart distance requirement. Masks are not required during exercise, swimming, in your private residence, driving alone or driving with members of the same household.
There is still a cap of 10 persons for public gatherings, and at home for those who do not reside there.
Arriving Tourists To Belize Should Note The Following
The Phillip Goldson International Airport (MZBZ) remains open.
Tourists must be booked in a Gold Standard approved hotel, must transfer there via a Gold Standard approved operator, and must abide by safety protocols.
A Negative PCR Test result will be accepted from arriving passengers at any Belize International Airport for tests taken within 4 days of travel (instead of the previously stipulated 3 days). Rapid Antigen, Sophia, SD Biosensor, ABBOT (Panbio) Test Results will also be accepted from arriving passengers at the PGIA – taken no more than 48 hours prior to travel.
The Ministry of Health reserves the right to randomly test on arrival at the PGIA for surveillance purposes. Testing at the airport will be done on a “Swab and Go” basis for tourists that will be staying in Gold Standard approved hotels. Only positive cases will receive notification from the Ministry of Health, and within 24 hours. Any COVID-19 positive tourist can quarantine at their Gold Standard hotel (which is provided for under the Gold Standard).
Tourists who test positive must quarantine at their own expense, and must test negative prior to departure travel. If a tourist refuses or is unable to present proof of booking, proof of adequate hotel and transfer arrangements, or is unable to undergo the requisite testing or screening by the health authorities at the airport, they may be denied entry to Belize.
Land and sea ports remain closed, except for cargo, approved medical purposes, for persons approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with business interests in Belize, diplomats, and persons with valid work permits.
Tourism Businesses Should Note And Adhere To The Following Rules
During the curfew period essential service personnel may move around. Tourism employees are considered essential services in the regulation. Badge passes must be applied for by employers in order for any essential employee to travel home (nowhere else) after 8:OO PM. These requests are to be submitted for consideration to the Ministry of Home Affairs via the Commissioner of Police (full name, license plate number and type of business being conducted is required).
All persons entering and remaining in a business establishment shall wear a face mask properly and adhere to social distancing measures. This includes both customers and employees.
The sale of alcohol will be restricted from 6:00PM to 5:00AM, except for restaurants operating within a Hotel or Tourist Accommodation establishment. Hotel guests may remain within the hotel facilities in private spaces (not public spaces) during curfew hours. Children under 16 years old may, if accompanied by their parents, utilize hotel restaurants (not outside the hotel) between 6:00PM and 8:OOPM.
Restaurants with outdoor, open-air or al fresco dining can continue to operate with only 50% capacity, and by reservation only. All other restaurants are to conduct business by take-out and drive-thru only.
The number of passengers on buses and water taxis will be restricted to 50% of seating capacity, and every passenger must wear a mask.
A fine will be imposed for employees ($200.) and employers ($5,000.) who break the regulations, particularly relating to face mask wearing and social distancing. A second violation will result in the businesses being shut down for 7 days.
There will be limited inter-district travel between the northern Corozal and Orange Walk Districts. International tourists, and employees from essential businesses are allowed to travel inter-district.
All businesses in operation are to appoint an Internal Auditor who shall be responsible to submit weekly compliance reports to the Ministry of Health and Wellness. All other regulations from the immediate past Statutory Instruments remain in place i.e. bars, spas, casinos, gyms etc. to remain closed.
Source: Belize Statutory Instrument 175 of 2020 Quarantine Regulation and Official Release 19 December 2020 Belize Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations with curation by the Belize.com editorial board.