BELMOPAN, Belize – Belize is preparing to reopen the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) on August 15 and is considering a legislative framework to enforce the new protocols that would be put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Ministry of Health along with other government ministries are putting in place all safety protocols at the PGIA and they have warned of the strict adherence to the measures.
The authorities have said that in the event tourists or returning Belizeans find it difficult to adhere to the measures, specifically the mandatory quarantine and wearing a face mask, the government is taking it a step further.
Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero told reporters that the Dean Barrow government is looking at a legislative framework to enforce such protocols come August 15.
“We actually just came from a discussion where we are looking legislative framework to actually enforce that once you open the airport because I know perhaps people don’t like to hear. Tourists are coming to what is called a safety corridor which means you are coming to a specific entity, specific modes of transportation.
“You can’t be all over the country but Belizeans who are coming back who are going to families and to the community I think that is where the concern has got to be. The other concern that came to us over the weekend is that also people who are going to be leaving on August 15 flights going on vacations to the US for one, two weeks”.
Dr. Manzanero said they could also be going to the US to do shopping “and then coming back to homes, families and communities.
“I think that is an overarching concern. So we need to put something in some legislative framework so that you can mandate that when they return there is some level of quarantine that is still mandated from them aside from the testing,” he added.
Asked whether Belize should consider closing its borders to American tourists given the high number of COVID-19 cases in that North American country, Dr. Manzanero insisted on the country implementing the protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Again, if you go through the process because if you remember it says if you have two positive tests upon arrival, you will be quarantined it does not matter what nationality you have.
“Understand that we have a mask situation here that you will have to abide. It does not matter what nationality people have. All those measures that are there in place are abided by and if you follow the protocol we should have a pretty safe corridor,” he added.
Belize has recorded two more cases on Monday, bringing the total of active cases to 18.
The health authorities said that the two new cases are both males, including one person who entered the country through the Western Border from Guatemala while the other on the repatriation flight. Both men are asymptomatic and remain under quarantine.
Health Minister, Pablo Marin, said the country has a “good hold on everybody that comes into the country.
“But the people that are crossing the border illegally we don’t (know)…where they are and normally when we go and talk to those people they lie to where they were.
“So we can’t control that. That is the fear that we have. Once that starts to spread that will be a problem for us,” he added.