Sunday, April 14, 2024

Islanders’ welcome changes in COVID-19 regulations; booster shots available for those ages 18 and older


The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) made two announcements on Wednesday, November 10th, regarding the COVID-19 health regulations and vaccinations. MOHW’s Minister, Honourable Michel Chebat, stated that starting November 22nd, the curfew will change to 10 PM-4 AM on Sundays through Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays, the curfew will be 11 PM – 4 AM. Chebat also said that COVID-19 vaccine boosters are now available for anyone 18 years of age and older. Stakeholders in San Pedro Town welcome the amendments aimed at benefiting the upcoming high tourism season.

Honourable Michel Chebat

Chebat added that there would no longer be a requirement to have a vaccine card to enter a restaurant. After discussions with tourism stakeholders, the minister stated that they realized that the regulation was causing a lot of difficulty to the businesses. “We find that there is a problem with enforcement at the moment, so for now, we are backing down from that position,” said Chebat. The requirement for 50% indoor dining and 75% outdoor dining occupancy remains in place

Many businesses on the island were concerned when the curfew remained at 9PM at the beginning of November. Hoteliers, restauranteurs, taxi operators, tour operators, and even residents hoped for a change. They feared that if the curfew change did not come any sooner, it would discourage tourists from traveling to the island for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Several accommodation establishments reported cancellations due to the policies, but they hope to regain reservations with the good news.

Vaccinations and booster shots

The booster shots, initially available only for persons 60 years of age and older, is now available for the public ages 18 and above. The booster (Pfizer) is to better equip those against the virus infecting and killing people. Chebat said that vaccination is one of the most effective weapons to combat the pandemic and encourages Belizeans to get the vaccination. The number of vaccinated country-wide continues to increase, and the country is nearing having 50% of the population immunized. The latest vaccine report indicates that over 207,000 have received their first dose, and over 187,000 Belizeans are fully vaccinated.

The latest Covid data shows more recoveries than infections. When questioned about the relaxation of the health measures, particularly considering a recent report of 11 deaths in one day, Chebat said a balanced government is trying to deliver between the economy and health. “We always try to have a balance,” he said. Chebat stated that when there is an outcry from the stakeholders, they must stop and look at the policies and review them to strike that much-needed balance.


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