Minister of Tourism Anthony Mahler has announced that cruise tourism will restart in Belize on 7 July. According to Mahler, a Carnival Cruise ship will arrive in Belize on that date at sixty percent capacity. Minister Mahler said ninety five percent of Carnival passengers would have already been vaccinated. The additional five percent, unvaccinated persons, will vacation in a bubble on the ship. Four Carnival ships are expected to arrive in July, four in August, and eight in September.
Meanwhile, outgoing Belize Tourism Industry Association President Teodoro Tejeda yesterday updated the media on current tourism trends “In terms of what we have learned over the last year we see the tourism numbers going up, I look at May was a little bit close to twenty thousand tourists came to Belize just last month and June the numbers are higher so we see new airlines adding flights to Belize starting November so Belize as a country is shaping to be very good destination for tourism.”
As Belize starts to see an uptick in tourism arrivals, it has also seen a slight increase in COVID-19 cases. Today government announced that all persons 18 years old and over are now eligible to take the COVID-19 vaccine. This follows the detection of a different strain of the virus in Belize that is causing clusters in different parts of the country. Initial findings show that this may be the Delta variant first detected in India. Samples have been sent to Baylor College of Medicine for further testing. Due to its small population of 400,000, Belize is unique in the Americas in having enough vaccines to provide for everyone, free of cost. The AstraZeneca and SinoPharm vaccines are available, and the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be in country shortly.
Minister of Police Kareen Musa announced today that starting 1 August, more stringent measures will apply to a wide range of frontline workers and their vaccination status. On that date, any frontline worker that is not vaccinated, will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 antigen test. The category of frontline worker has been broadened to include all medical and law enforcement personnel, food handlers and hospitality workers, teachers, tour guides and operators, and casino employees.
Speaking at a press conference Prime Minister John Briceño said that government intends to continue all precautions to combat the pandemic. In addition to stepping up the pace of vaccinations, restrictions on public events will continue. He stated that during the National September Celebrations, no carnival or parades will be allowed.
The Carnival Vista, after a stop in Roatan, Honduras, arrived in Belize on 7 July, the first cruise ship to call on Belize after a 17 month shutdown. A tourism spokesman stated “We have 2,810 total passengers on the Carnal Vista, so you know that’s not a hundred percent capacity. Over 97% of them are vaccinated. The remainder are children or people with concerns. These tourists were put into what we call a bubble tour, where we have enhanced safety measures. All the vaccinated people, are here to enjoy Belize. Vendors and restaurants are open to receive them. Tours went to Altun Ha, Xunantunich, Lamanai, Hol Chan.
New COVID-19 Regulations Effective Sunday 3 July
- Curfew will be extended – from Sunday to Wednesday, it will remain at 10pm and from Thursday to Saturday it will start at 11pm instead of midnight.
- Church services can only be one hour long with 50% capacity inside and churches will need to have every other pew cordoned off to ensure the capacity is kept.
- Restaurants will remain with 75% capacity for outside restaurants and 50% for inside but restaurants must have a free flow of air (no AC)
- JP’s (justices of the peace) will also be reinstated inside restaurants to regulate the social distancing and to ensure people are wearing masks as well as to ensure persons remain seated at their table and not moving around or dancing.
- BPO’s will have a capacity limit of 50% inside.
- Frontline personnel are encouraged to get vaccinated in July. If not, then starting August 1st, they will need to present a negative PCR test every two weeks. These personnel include: Doctors, Nurses, Police officers, Military officers, Educational frontliners (teachers), Economic frontliners (tour guides/operators), Restaurant owners and employees, Casino workers, Spiritual frontliners (pastors and priests)