Belize Covid testing

Belize to Mandate Covid Testing for Vaccinated Travelers Again

Belize reverses its March 2021 ruling allowing vaccinated travelers to enter the country without a Covid test.

In March 2021, Belize became the first country in Central America to allow vaccinated travelers to enter without presenting a Covid test. Well, technically-speaking, the second country…

The first was Costa Rica, which doesn’t require a Covid test for anyone, vaccinated or not, to enter. So in effect, Belize was the first to distinguish between vaccinated and non-vaccinated travelers with its testing requirements.

Amid great fanfare, Belize announced that, from March 2, anyone fully-vaccinated against Covid (two shots for most vaccines, one for Johnson & Johnson) at least two weeks before travel, could forgo the required Covid test to enter. Guatemala soon followed with a similar rule.

At the same time, Belize also announced travelers could take their Covid test within 96 hours of travel instead of 72 hours for a PCR, and within 48 hours for a rapid antigen test.

Fast forward five months, and Belize has now reversed its rule allowing vaccinated travelers into its territory without a Covid test.

From Monday, August 9, all travelers to Belize, regardless of their vaccination status, will need to present a negative Covid test to enter the country. This rule applies to both tourists and business travelers visiting Belize, and citizens and residents living in-country.

The testing timeline remains the same – within 96 hours of travel for a PCR test and 48 hours for a rapid antigen test.

Travelers arriving into the international airport without a test will have to take one at their own expense ($50) before immigration allows them into the country.

If you’re visiting Belize by land, from Guatemala or Mexico, you’ll need to take a test on the ground, again at a cost of $50, to enter the country.

Tourists visiting Belize still no longer need to download the health app introduced when it reopened in October. They must, however, stay in Gold Standard accommodations, booked in advance. Showing up and winging it is no longer an option.

Mandating tests for vaccinated travelers comes amid concern in Belize over a small uptick in cases, and a nervousness about variants entering the country.

In a statement yesterday, the Belize Tourism Board said, “These measures are being put in place in view of the increased risks posed by recent variants of the Covid-19 virus and in an effort to protect both international visitors and the local population.

Belize is the fourth-most vaccinated country in Central America.

So far, some 13% of its citizens/residents are fully-vaccinated and 21% partially. It stands in the middle of the pack in the region, with Costa Rica, Panama, and El Salvador way ahead in vaccinations and Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua way behind.

As of August 5 2021, Belize has a total of 14,382 Covid cases, with 338 deaths in a population of 405,500, Central America’s smallest.

James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Central America.