Monday, July 22, 2024

Minister of Health and Wellness says GOB will implement mandatory vaccination card or negative COVID-19 test before accessing public buildings


Today, September 9th, the Minister of Health and Wellness, the Honourable Michel Chebat, announced that a new measure would require every Belizean to present a vaccination card or present a negative COVID-19 before entering public government buildings, private establishments, and even schools. This initiative will be debated at Cabinet before going into effect on October 1st.

This proposed regulation is due to increased COVID-19 cases across the country, totaling 1,300 with deaths on the rise. The Honourable Chebat said this is necessary to fight against the disease plaguing the country with a third wave. The regulation will also apply to public transportation whereby travelers must present proof of vaccination or present a PCR test within 96 hours or a rapid test within 48 hours. Chebat added that enforcement would be conducted with the assistance of the police and the Justices of the Peace. The minister also said that there are plans to create a COVID-19 enforcement team across the country. This team will ensure that health regulations are adhered to.

However, the primary responsibility will fall on the owners of business establishments. They must ensure that patrons are vaccinated or in possession of a COVID-19 test. Penalties will include $500 for persons without a vaccination card or valid COVID-19 test. Chebat said that establishments not enforcing the measure could face up to a $1,000 fine.

Area Representative for Belize Rural South (Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker), Honorable Andre Perez said the high number of cases in the country is cause for concern. He added that one part of the regulation is that all employees in a business must be vaccinated. Perez pointed out that in San Pedro Town, the number of people getting the vaccine has slowed down. He showed concern about the three-day holiday weekend in honor of the Battle of St. George’s Caye. Perez said the tourism industry is very fragile and is asking islanders to be cautious. If cases continue to increase, the government will take drastic measures that could result in a 7PM curfew.

While the decision to mandate vaccination cards or COVID-19 tests has mixed views, the Leader of the Opposition Honourable Moses ‘Shyne’ Barrow, supports this move. However, he asked for the lifting of the curfew. He said that with this new upcoming requirement, there is no need for a curfew.

The vaccination campaign continues nationwide. Belizeans yet to get the injection against COVID-19 can visit their nearest health center to get vaccinated. The government has secured more than enough doses of different vaccines, including AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer. The vaccines are free and available countrywide.

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