Sunday, April 14, 2024

Ambergris Caye’s quarantine rules differ from Central Government; Mayor asks residents to wait for 14-day clearance

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In a statement issued via their Facebook Page, The San Pedro Town Council made the bold declaration that some of their rules for Ambergris Caye would over-ride the latest Belize Constitution (Emergency Powers) Regulations, 2020 in place due to COVID-19. On Tuesday, March 31st, following the announcement of a third coronavirus case, Prime Minister Dean Barrow declared a State of Emergency for the entire country of Belize. The PM gave directives to Governor General Sir Colville Young to sign and gazette Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 46 of 2020 on April 1ST.

On that same day, The San Pedro Town Council issued its own version of the amendments, making special note that previous rules in place for Ambergris Caye would remain in place. “The following operations are STILL NOT ALLOWED and PROHIBITED: delis, bars, construction, and fishing, until further notice. Restrictions will be re-visited on Monday, April 6, 2020. Anyone violating these regulations will be arrested. The sale of alcohol is STRICTLY PROHIBITED during this time; this will result in the revoking of the business’ liquor license and trade license. The Belize Coast Guard will be monitoring our waters for any violators; if caught, consequences may lead to arrest and/or the termination of your captain’s license.”

File Photo: (l-r) Mayor Daniel Guerrero and BRS Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr.

There was much confusion upon this statement, and on Thursday, April 2nd, Mayor Daniel Guerrero joined Belize Rural South Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr. at the Reef TV Morning Show. Host Eiden Salazar asked for clarification of the rules. “We are not on par with what the Central Government is doing. We are on an island, and we do not have a hospital…if things were to get worse, we do not have the resources…we are kind of prepared, but we have to be real,” said Guerrero. He then compared our numbers to that of developed countries that have more resources than Belize, and how uncontrollable the coronavirus cases have been there. Reiterating that San Pedro Town has always been different, being an island and far from the mainland, he added, “It is not a challenge that we are doing to Central Government; it’s just that we have to think different. It’s not time to relax.” In the event that we [unfortunately] end up with more cases of COVID-19, Mayor Guerrero added that there is a plan in place. “We have an action plan prepared. It’s already planned – it’s been approved, but it will be VERY drastic. If you guys think that you have some freedom right now? Well, when that plan kicks in, there is no freedom. It will be a [complete] lockdown.”

Guerrero went on to ask islanders to make the sacrifice for at least the full 14 days under the previous Ambergris Caye quarantine guidelines. This number of days counts back from when the first positive case was identified and announced on Monday, March 23rd. That day, an emergency 72-hour quarantine order was put into place, which eventually was upgraded to a 30-day quarantine on Wednesday, March 25th after a second case registered positive. Upon the confirmation of the third case in Belize City on Monday, March 30th, a National State of Emergency was declared to start at midnight on April 1st for the entire country of Belize. “We need to learn to discipline ourselves. Let us learn from the mistakes being done elsewhere and not repeat the mistakes others are doing,” said Guerrero, in his plea to island residents to abide by the Ambergris Caye rules. Once the 14 days are over on Monday, April 6th, and if there are no more positive cases, Mayor Guerrero indicated that the Emergency Operation Center will revisit/review the previous orders and move forward with a new plan.

Below is the official Ambergris Caye list of rules that remain in place:

Stores that sell essential and basic necessities will be allowed to operate from 7:00 a.m to 10:00 a.m.
Bakeries and Tortilla factories will be allowed to operate from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Pharmacies will be allowed to operate from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Fuel and Butane Gas Companies will be allowed to operate from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon.
Bowen and Bowen may resume with its delivery of SODAS and WATER ONLY.
Banks will be allowed to operate from 8 a.m. to 12:00 noon.
Hardwares will be allowed to operate from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Restaurants will only be allowed to operate by DELIVERY SERVICE ONLY.
Each establishment MUST mark spaces, 6 feet apart from each other, for customers waiting.
Customers inside the establishment should be strictly limited to no more than ten persons.
Check-out lines MUST also be distanced, 6 feet apart from each customer.
ALL establishments MUST have a handwashing station for customers.
Customers MUST wash their hands before entering or making any purchases.
Hand sanitizer MUST be available at every store, especially at check-out.
Stores are asked to offer DELIVERY SERVICES of goods; however, curbside pick-ups will be permitted temporarily.

Regulations enforced according to the Country’s State of Emergency:

Country State of Emergency goes into effect Thursday at 12:00 a.m.
A curfew will be implemented from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Everything MUST be closed. No one will be allowed to be on the streets.
No loitering, wandering, assembling or moving at any public place or any public roads.
If you are caught, police will stop and you will be questioned, if you lack a proper justification, you can be arrested.
Citizens are only allowed to move during the day from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. to purchase essential needs, to get medical attention or if you are an essential worker.
Essential workers who can work during curfew and daytime hours are: Government workers, medical, public utilities, social workers, sanitation workers, productive sector, Statutory Bodies, State-run bodies).
All ports of entries remain closed, except for Cargo.
Any Belizean that enters the country during this time will be placed at a quarantine center for the time indicated by the doctors at their own expense.

For the official Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 46 of 2020, kindly follow this link: https://bit.ly/3dMstV—5

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