Saturday, April 20, 2024

9PM curfew to remain at Belize’s top tourism destinations


Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Placencia, and Hopkins villages were spared the countrywide 7PM curfew as part of new regulations that go into effect on Monday, September 20th for two weeks. The exception means their curfew will remain from 9PM to 4AM. Another exception benefiting these key tourism destinations is that restaurants will be allowed to accommodate up to 75% of their seating capacity. Reservations are required and establishments must provide ventilated or al fresco dining areas and observe the COVID-19 health protocols. While elsewhere in the country, restaurants will only be allowed to provide take-out services.

The measures were announced by Prime Minister Honourable John Briceño on the evening of Wednesday, September 15th via a pre-recorded video message. He said the new set of rules are necessary due to the rise in COVID-19 cases. The health system is overwhelmed as more people are infected and severely ill with the virus. Deaths have increased and concern that the situation could get out of control is something government cannot afford. The Prime Minister implored the public to get vaccinated as it is proven to protect people from the virus.

Some island residents believe that the new rules imposing a countrywide 7PM to 4AM curfew except for Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Placencia, and Hopkins, demonstrates government commitment to the key areas of the country providing employment and contributing to the growth of the national economy. According to them, a 7PM curfew would be devastating to the tourism industry leading to thousands losing their jobs and the country’s much-needed foreign exchange affected. The current 9PM curfew is not viewed as the best for tourism business and stakeholders would like to see the curfew extended beyond 10PM. They say it has been a struggle as a good number of tourists have decided against visiting Belize due to some of the regulations, particularly the curfew.

Other regulations the Prime Minister listed include the closure of casinos and churches during the upcoming two weeks. The plans of any contact sports were also dashed.  Sunday, September 26th, and Sunday, October 3rd, will be ‘NO MOVEMENT DAYS,’ except for medical attention, purchasing medication fuel, or groceries.

The number of infections continues to be alarming. As of Wednesday, 1,474 confirmed cases were reported countrywide. Two more deaths were reported, taking the tally up to 385 since mid- 2020. There were 40 hospitalizations and nine persons in the Intense Care Unit of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City.

The numbers on Ambergris Caye, in particular, are in the 70s. However, islanders continue heading to the vaccination center for the vaccine against COVID-19. Islanders are warned to not take for granted the exceptions given to them. It is up to them to keep the number of infections down because if not, the island could face drastic measures if the situation does not improve.

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