Monday, July 22, 2024

Re-opening of land borders and seaports postponed until February 2022

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The full re-opening of land borders with Mexico and Guatemala set for January 1, 2022, has now been pushed to February. This abrupt change comes after formal recommendations from the COVID-19 Advisory Committee.

The Government of Belize announced this change on Wednesday, December 22nd, via a press release. According to the official note, the delay in the opening will allow the health system to better prepare for the emergence of the Omicron variant. In addition, it will also provide time to prepare for the education system’s return to hybrid learning on January 10th. Some students will practice in-person classes during hybrid learning, while others will continue online.

On December 16th, the Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Anthony Mahler, announced that land borders and seaports would fully re-open on the first of January. Some protocols indicated that anyone fully vaccinated traveling for less than 24 hours would not be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test upon returning to Belize. This caused some concern, as the Omicron variant has also been detected in Mexico.

Others in Belize welcomed the idea of re-opening the borders, and people were beginning to travel to the neighboring cities of Melchor, Guatemala, and Chetumal, Mexico. Many Belizeans travel across the border for shopping purposes. In Chetumal, a popular hotel with Belizeans, Hotel Los Cocos, posted pictures of what seemed to be preparations to welcome Belizean customers on social media.

This sudden postponement may have disrupted Belizean’s travel plans. However, the GOB believes that the integrity of the country’s health system and the welfare of Belizeans is paramount and must be protected. The government added that they would continue monitoring the re-opening of the land borders and COVID-19.

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