Stranded islanders allowed to travel back home with proof of residence
Monday, May 4th, 2020
On Monday, May 4th, water taxi services from the mainland to Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye are expected to resume for essential travel only. These runs cover only essential worker travel, the purchase of essential needs, attending medical appointments, emergencies and the return of care providers. The latest Statutory Instrument NO. 65 governing the State of Emergency, however, does not offer any provisions for people to return to their respective communities of origin. Regardless, personnel from The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Sunday, May 3rd that islanders stuck on the mainland can now travel back home, if they can provide evidence that they reside on the island.
This decision was taken following Belize’s significant decrease in cases of COVID-19, having registered no further cases for almost three weeks. The MOH alleges that the clusters of persons under investigation have been contained thus, the relaxation in the restrictions. This exception also applies for any mainland residents on the island wanting to head back home. They must prove that they are heading back home or if they need to travel off the island for a medical emergency or appointment. Otherwise, boarding the water taxi vessels will be denied.
Despite the fact that the current SI still prohibits movement within districts or localities, if people can prove that they are traveling with a purpose, they are expected to be allowed to get to their destinations.
No screening needed
According to an interview with Dr. Javier Canul during a special edition of Reef TV’s morning Show, screening and quarantine are no longer needed when moving within districts. Therefore, no clearance is needed to leave or come to the islands unless it is medically-related. People traveling back home are asked to show proof of residence at the intended destination, and to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
At this point, no arrangements have been made to have any representatives of the local authorities at the docks when the water taxis arrived with people.
Water Taxi Companies responsible to decide who travels
The boat companies are allegedly in charge to ensure persons are traveling for the right reasons. People are being discouraged from traveling in private vessels, and if it is necessary, a manifest must be produced to show who all are onboard before departing the mainland.
Despite these commodities, people are advised to move/travel only if necessary, as Belize is yet to be declared COVID-19 free. At the time this article was written/posted, out of 18 confirmed cases, the official update had Belize with only two active cases remaining.
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