Belizean health authorities say they will request that the government impose a curfew on the night of the general elections here as a result of the increased cases in coronavirus (COVID-19).
The National Oversight Committee (NOC) said it had “agreed to recommend to Cabinet, for COVID-19 safety reasons, the imposition of a curfew on election night beginning at 8:00 p.m. and lasting until 5:00 a.m (local time) the following day.
Belizeans will vote for a new government on November 11 with the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) facing a challenge from the main opposition People’s United Party (PUP) for control of the 31-member Parliament. There are two smaller parties in the race.
In a statement, the NOC said it is warning that the country is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and has turned down all requests made for the relaxation of the restrictions pertaining to clubs, bars, casinos, and street vending.
The NOC said it had taken special note of the October 26 report by the Director of Health Services (DHS) Dr. Marvin Manzanero “and was concerned at the 332 new cases occurring over the past week”.
“Even more alarming was the fact of six more deaths, including the first paediatric fatality,” the NOC said. The six-year-old boy, who was rushed to hospital by his parents died last Saturday.
The child, Arturo Godoy Jr. had also been battling kidney disease for the past two years. His entire lower body was swollen and he had trouble urinating. It was during a procedure to allow urination, that Godoy was informed that his six-year-old son was COVID-19 positive.
In the statement, the NOC said that in consequence of these developments, it agreed to fast track private sector rapid testing, with an accompanying protocol for the contact tracing that would need to occur with private sector detection of positive cases.
“The NOC believes that Belize is experiencing a COVID-19 surge, with the likelihood of this being heightened because of the general elections on November 11.
“The NOC, therefore, stresses, in the middle of public reports about continued lax behaviour and violation of the safety protocols mandated by law, that it is now more critical than ever that Belizeans adhere to the legal and protective guardrails: physical distancing; handwashing and mask-wearing; no gatherings of more than 10 persons; and a ban on all non-family, close-quarters interactions.”
It said that in this light, it felt obliged to turn down all requests made for the relaxation of the restrictions pertaining to clubs, bars, casinos, and street vending,” even as it approved the protocols presented by the National Fitness Association (NAC) for the reopening of gyms.
“Again because of the current surge, the NOC decided that notwithstanding the meticulous and commendable work of the NAC proposal, the approved resumption of operations by gyms and fitness centers would now take place on November 30th instead of the requested date of October 30th.”