Friday, July 19, 2024

New regulation requiring vaccination card or negative COVID-19 test before accessing public buildings or services to be enacted next month

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On October 1st, the Government of Belize is poised to enact a new regulation to contain the spread of COVID-19. The law will require individuals to either provide proof of vaccination or a negative test to access public facilities and services. Several businesses in San Pedro Town have announced they will enforce the regulation to provide a safer environment for customers. The government is yet to gazette the proposed legislation, however, Attorney General (AG) Magali Marin Young said on Tuesday, September 28th, that it is going to be implemented based on advice from the medical community considering the increase in cases and deaths caused by the virus, particularly the Delta variant.

Magali Marin Young

The AG explained that the intent is not to make vaccines mandatory, but propose that persons be inoculated against the virus and access essential services without risks of infection. “Vaccine mandates require every citizen to take a vaccine, that is not what is coming into effect on the 1st of October,” she said. “What is coming into effect is that for you to access public facilities, you will be required to show your vaccine card or produce a negative PCR that has been taken within 96 hours or negative rapid test was taken within 48 hours,” Young said that the government does not consider this action to be mandatory for people to get the jab. The people have an option.

Public facilities and services under the new regulation

The proposed law will require anyone accessing public government buildings, private establishments, schools, public transportation, and medical institutions to show their vaccination card or produce a negative COVID-19 test. In the case of individual establishments/businesses, they are expected to enforce the rule and apply the regulations to protect staff and customers. Attorney General Young added the only exception is at medical centers for emergencies, but for routine visits, patients will be required to show their vaccination proof or a negative test.

According Minister of Health and Wellness (MOHW), Honourable Michel Chebat, enforcement be conducted with the assistance of the police and the Justices of the Peace. Penalties will include $500 for persons without a vaccination card or valid COVID-19 test. He has also said that establishments not enforcing the measure could face up to a $1,000 fine. Chebat is in close communication with the country’s medical personnel and has consulted with members of the public to agree on what regulations to implement. MOHW is working on the development of an app to scan vaccination cards and verify authenticity.

In San Pedro, carriers such as water taxi companies have communicated to their customers their upcoming regulations. Other places include financial institutions that have announced their plans to require clients to abide by the new rule and provide their proof of vaccination or negative test to access their services. Other check-ups will include temperature recording, face masks, hand sanitization, and social distancing.

The new law will focus on guaranteeing the safety of staff and members of the public accessing services. The main goal besides curbing the rate of infections is to get the economy back on track as the country depends heavily on tourism.

The total number of persons across the country recorded with COVID-19 is nearing 2,000 with deaths exceeding 400. According to MOHW’s daily reports, hospitalizations are on the rise and the majority of people dying with the virus are unvaccinated, thus, the urge to get vaccinated.

 

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