Belize is now open to international tourism with no quarantine requirements. For weeks now the Ministry of Health has been practicing COVID19 protocols at the Belize International Airport. Working from formica desks and properly fitted in personal protection equipment , Belizean health workers are efficiently processing tourists with tracking apps, temperature probes and rapid tests. They’ve had lots of practice. Weekly repatriation flights bringing in nationals, permanent residents and deportees. And the uber rich on sometimes secretive private jets facilitated by local authorities. (Image above: Halfmoon Caye Belize, credit otavio.kuhn)
What to expect in COVID19 Belize Tourism? The infographic below shows the traveller classifications and entry requirements in place for international tourism. The now relaxed requirements are for foreign tourists who must lodge at approved hotels, be transported within Belize by approved operators and take only approved tours. A tracking cell phone app will monitor the movement of tourists. During a press conference on Friday 16 October Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced that via a new Statutory Instrument (SI) on Monday 19 October, tourists would no longer be confined to their Gold Standard hotels, and Belizeans and permanent residents will not be required to undergo a 10-day quarantine as previously required. Additionally, restaurants countrywide will now be allowed to cater to more than ten customers based on the establishment’s square footage. All seating arrangements must guarantee social distancing, and no more than ten persons per table are allowed.
The safety corridor for tourists has now been binned and guests can move outside of the Gold Standard hotels and be advised on restaurants and transportation approved by the BTB under the Gold Standard program. Tourists will also be advised which tour operators are Gold Standard certified as well. If tourists want to rent a car and drive from the PGIA to other Belize parts like the Cayo or Stann Creek Districts, this will be allowed through approved car rentals, and the customer must provide an itinerary before leaving. The vehicle will have a tracking device for monitoring and ensure that the person(s) are heading to the destination as per their scheduled itinerary.
Here is the press release from the Belize Tourism Board.
Belize Officially Reopens International Airport to Leisure Travel Belize City, Belize, Thursday, 1 October 2020 – Belize officially reopened the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) today welcoming back inbound leisure travel for international visitors, with approved hotels and tour operators only. PGIA has been closed since late march due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Travelers planning to visit Belize in 2020-2021 can choose from a new schedule of year-round, non-stop flights offered by American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Airlines. Beginning Oct. 1, Belize will welcome non-stop flights from Miami (via American Airlines) and Houston (via United Airlines). Similarly, Delta Airlines will resume flights on Nov. 20 with non-stop service from Atlanta. The restoration of direct-flight service enables visitors to get to Belize in approximately three hours or less.
Tourists to Belize can nowl travel freely to facilities which will include hotels, restaurants and tour operators that have achieved “Tourism Gold Standard” Recognition. The Gold Standard Recognition Program is a 9-point program that seeks to enhance the tourism industry’s health and safety standards by adapting new behaviors and procedures to ensure both employees and travelers are confident in the cleanliness and safety of Belize’s tourism product. Businesses that meet the requirements of the Tourism Gold Standard Program are certified and promoted as having implemented these enhanced measures with a Gold Standard Seal of Approval. This seal certifies industry stakeholders who’ve embraced the safety protocols, and will be visible for all guests where practical, such as tour operator vehicles and vessels, hotel lobbies, primary doors of entry, etc.
The first weekend of operation is expected to be a busy one. American Airlines returns with a full flight (72 passengers) on Thursday, and United Airlines makes its commercial return on Friday with 177 passengers. American Airlines will provide service to Belize Thursday through Monday, while United will fly Friday through Sunday. Full flights are expected from both airlines throughout the weekend. Foreign tourist traffic is anticipated to climb as we near our traditional ‘high season’ in November and the latter part of 2020.
Belize Travel Health App
As a part of the travel entry requirements to Belize during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Government of Belize has developed the Belize Travel Health App to assist all travellers in submitting the requisite travel and health information to facilitate travel into Belize. This Application also includes a geo-tracking functionality for all travellers during their stay in Belize to assist public health officials in contact tracing, where necessary, as outlined in terms and conditions of the application. Please feel free to visit www.covid19.bz for further information on your travel to Belize.The Belize Travel Health App is required for anyone travelling to Belize. The download links are below.
Download the Belize Travel Health App on the App Store (Apple App Store)
Download the Belize Travel Health App for Android (Statistical Institute of Belize)
Belize Gold Standard Accommodations
Belize now has a list of certified Gold Standard Tourism Facilities. These are tourist accommodations ranging from full hotels down to the budget level inns.
18 December 2020 update:
Belize Hotel Association president speaks on Gold Standard hotels
There are over nine hundred hotels in Belize and only four hundred of those have been deemed Gold Standard. The hotels that have been marked Gold Standard are the only ones that can cater to tourist since the re-opening of the Phillip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) October 1. According to President of the Belize Hotel Association (BHA), Ted Tejada, hotels are only showing a ten to twenty percent occupancy compared to statistics in previous years.
Ted Tejada, President, Belize Hotel Association: “We knew that it was going to be slow start. We have seen between 15-20% normal occupancy in any of our member hotels compared to last year if we were to look at December which is one of the highest months hotels in Belize would be operating between 60-90% during this month but due to the pandemic hotels are reporting between 10 and not more than 20% occupancy. It has been a very slow start. The United States who provides huge tourism for Belize we only see 24% of the population is willing to travel and out of those 24% there’s also 60% who are willing to travel internally within the United States so we are actually competing against Miami, Houston, these destinations in the United States that might also have sun and beach compared to them traveling internationally and so we do see that during the months of January, February and March it’s going to continue to be a slow start. We’re expecting that the release of the vaccine and having more people immunized that will speed up the process of the arrivals but we’re looking forward, looking to January, February and March we believe it’s still going to continue being a slow start for Belize.”
The gold Standard certification is done through the Belize Tourism Board.
Meanwhile, the BTB has addressed rumors that the Belize International Airport (MZBZ) will close down and that visitors will need to cancel their flights and reservations. According to them, this information is false and the airport remains open to international travelers. At this point, there is no plan in place to institute any such closure, especially since increased volumes of passengers and flights are expected over December and March.
COVID19 Curfew and Other Regulations Relaxation 29 January 2021
At a press conference on 29 January 2021, Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa announced the following relaxation of Covid19 restrictions to take effect on 1 February 2021.
Curfew has been changed to 10pm to 5am everyday for adults. Previously it was 8pm to 5am. This relaxation is aimed to help hotels and restaurants where tourists wish to drink and have supper. Minors are still subject to a curfew of 6pm to 5am.
The restriction of travel between the northern districts of Corozal and Orange Walk to other parts of Belize, has been lifted.
COVID19 regulations violators will no longer be detained by the police and subsequently arraigned in court. In place, is a new ticketing system where violators will be issued a ticket and fined $500.
Gymnasiums and churches will be allowed to reopen but must adhere to a 50% capacity rule. Bars, casinos and nightclubs remain closed.