New Belize Covid restrictions will kick in on Sunday, September 19, says Prime Minister Johnny Briceño (while not mentioning the supposed “vaccine mandate” rules announced last week by his health minister).
Belize Prime Minister Johnny Briceño made a national address last night, where he introduced new measures to combat the growing number of Covid cases in the country.
Speaking in a pre-recorded video, Briceño laid out five separate measures, starting this Sunday, September 19:
- A new, extended curfew from 7:00 PM-4:00 AM. All of Belize must adhere to this curfew except for the tourist communities of San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia, and Hopkins. These communities remain with the existing 9:00 PM-4:00 AM curfew.
- All restaurants open for take-out services only. Restaurants in San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia, and Hopkins remain exempt, and can open as long as they follow current protocols.
- All casinos and churches closed.
- All contact sports prohibited.
- Sundays are no-movement days. You can only leave your house for medical attention or to buy medicine, groceries, or fuel.
Theses measures will last until Monday, October 4 at the earliest.
Fellow citizens, GOB will do what is necessary to pass appropriate legislation that will protect our children, health care workers and vulnerable citizens doing everything possible to ensure each other’s safety.
I know we can overcome this together because we’ve done it before.
— Johnny Briceño (@JohnBricenoBZE) September 16, 2021
And what about the proposed “vaccine mandate” announced last week?
One odd thing about Briceño’s address is that he said nothing about the supposed plan to ban the unvaccinated from public buildings. He spoke a lot about getting vaccinated and giving the healthcare system a rest, but nothing about the elephant in the room.
Rumors have been swirling since Health Minister Michel Chabet went on TV last week, saying from October 1, anyone entering a public building in Belize needs to show proof of vaccination.
In his announcement, Chabet defined public buildings as not only government offices, but any building of business where the public can go. This includes stores, restaurants, and public transport.
Chabet said business owners would need to be proactive in maintaining these measures, and that they would also be using police and justices of the peace to help them. He also mentioned the government creating a “Covid enforcement team” to ensure businesses were adhering to the measures.
While these measures aren’t a vaccine mandate as such (no-one’s forcing anyone to get jabbed), they’ll make life extremely difficult for the unvaccinated in Belize. Including, we assume, tourists.
As it stands, travelers arriving in Belize only need to produce a negative Covid test to enter the country, whether they’re vaccinated or not. But airports count as “public buildings”, so does it stand to reason that Belize will tell tourists they need a Covid vaccine?
Belize was the first country in Central America to distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers in terms of whether they needed a Covid test to enter. It’s now reversed that ruling. https://t.co/79oxhjuhfA
— CentralAmericaLiving (@VidaAmerica) August 6, 2021
It seems very strange that during the prime minister’s address last night, he didn’t mention any of this.
In the past week, the Belizean press and social media have been all over this story, and there’s even talk of a protest on Saturday.
Not mentioning this leads us to believe it might not happen, at least not on October 1 anyway. We’ll wait and see.
The new restrictions announced today come during Belize’s biggest wave of Covid so far, with 176 new cases confirmed yesterday and two deaths. So far, Belize has 20% of its people fully-vaccinated and 23% partially-vaccinated.
This week, Belize received an extra 168,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
— Breaking Belize News (@belizemedia) September 15, 2021
James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.