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Today's Belize News: March 20, 2020 #541150
03/20/20 07:01 AM
03/20/20 07:01 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 66,973
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP


FOR TODAY'S BELIZE WEATHER, CLICK HERE

Click for our Daily Tropical Weather Report.

Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5, LOVETV, PGTV, Reef TV, KREM, and CTV 3. Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, Belize Now, Talk Ah Di Town, and other specials.


The San Pedro Sun

Anna Herrera remanded for firearm offences
23-year-old Anna Herrera was remanded to the Belize Central Prison for the charges of possession of firearm and ammunition without a gun license. On Thursday, March 19th she pleaded not guilty to the charges after being taken in front of Magistrate Khadeem Palmer in Belize City. But because of the nature of the offences, she was remanded until June 19, 2020. According to an official report, Herrera, a Chef of the San Mateo Sub-division in San Pedro Town was aboard a passenger bus in Hattieville, when police conducted a search.

Ministry of Natural Resources COVID- 19 Risk Mitigation and Response Actions
In the interest of public health and safety and due to circumstances regarding COVID-19, the Ministry hereby informs the public of the following: All offices countrywide will be closed to the public for tomorrow, Friday, March 20, 2020. A notice will be issued to inform of when offices will reopen. Effective immediately, Heads of Department and Sections will only attend to the public by appointments. To schedule an appointment, please contact the customer service section at (501)828-5028.

Water taxi from Chetumal, Mexico turned away at San Pedro Terminal
On Saturday, March 14th, a San Pedro Belize Express water taxi vessel traveling from Chetumal Mexico, was denied permission to dock at the International Boat Terminal in San Pedro Town. The vessel was reportedly bringing 50 passengers, mostly Europeans, including three Belizeans. Some of the passengers were suspected of being infected with Coronavirus. The vessel remained anchored on the lagoon side while guarded by the Belize Coast Guard. The initial plan was for the passengers to overnight on the boat and then return to Chetumal. Because of the limited amenities on the boat, the vessel was escorted back to Chetumal, where Mexican authorities awaited.

Placencia Airstrip to close temporarily for renovations
On Monday, March 16th, Tropic Air released plans to close the Placencia airstrip for renovations temporarily. The closure will take effect from May 1, 2020, to September 30th. During the closure, the runway will undergo revamping, lengthening, widening, and installing of runway lighting. Tropic Air also released a statement on what changes will be implemented during the airstrip’s closure period.

San Pedro Town braces for COVID-19; holiday and special events cancelled
Authorities at the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) announced on Tuesday, March 17th via a press release that specific measures will be implemented to ensure the safety of residents from the COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The island’s primary industry, tourism, is also feeling severe effects with hoteliers, restaurants, and tour operators reporting many cancellations and people laid off. Mayor Daniel Guerrero called on islanders to stay calm amidst the announcement of the cancellation of large festivals on the island while discussing ways how the authorities can assist those most affected.

Ambergris Today

Washington University Students Participate In Health Campaign
On Saturday, March 14, 2020, the newly formed Student Government Association at the Washington University of Health and Science participated in an outreach program to educate the community about the Novel Corona Virus. This activity was organized by the Ministry of Health of Belize and was carried out under the supervision of Dr. Javier Canul (Surveillance Officer of the Island) and Ms. Christina Sanchez (Public Health Inspector). More than 70 students from the school went out to spread awareness about the Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19), making it a huge success. Students were placed into groups and were sent into different neighborhoods to spread knowledge on how to prevent this new pandemic that has caused fatalities around the world.

Various Belizean Sources

mzz

Photo of the new House of Culture in Belize City
From about 1998 to about 2015 the HOC was housed there. One idea was to let the house continue to be a museum and HOC. It was later decided that having both in house would not be a good idea because you could not have a museum that is normally quite in one room and people dancing and playing loud music in the next. The building is 206 years old. So, it was decided to build a separate building for the HOC and in that building you could play music and dance as much as you want without disturbing anyone.

Tropic Air Route Suspensions & Cargo Operations Change
Due to the extraordinary circumstances being brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tropic Air will have to suspend all flights to Orange Walk (Tower Hill) with immediate effect. This is in addition to the suspension of flights to Roatan, Honduras and Flores, Guatemala that were announced earlier this week, and were a result of those nations closing their borders. Cargo service to all stations, including package pick up and drop off, has also been amended. Cargo will now be available Monday to Saturday, until further notice.

Belize Declares National Hand Washing Day March 25, 2020
San Pedro High School, Belize students practicing good hygiene.

Belize Living Heritage Website
In lieu of the COVID-19 outbreak, we encourage the use of online learning resources to keep children at home engaged and learning. Check out the Belize Living Heritage Website to learn more about activities to stimulate learning. The Belize Living Heritage website is dedicated to promoting the diversity of all the cultural expressions and knowledge that make us uniquely Belizean. Belizean communities are diverse and dynamic, and so are the customs, traditions and beliefs that we practice as individuals, families, organizations, and groups. Our hope is that this educational platform will contribute to safeguarding the diverse cultural landscape that has come to characterize our people, our communities and our country. You are welcome to explore, to engage and to contribute to this platform and make our Belize Living Heritage known to all citizens and the world.

BTIA Supporting Tourism Stakeholders as a Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The BTIA Board of Directors held a meeting on March 19, 2020, to discuss the current situation that has arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and how best to continue serving our membership during this time of crisis. Representatives of the Social Security Board (SSB) including Mrs. Debbie Ruiz, Acting CEO, and Mrs. Chandra Nisbet-Cansino, General Manager - Corporate Customer Relations Services, met with the BTIA Board to share information and precautionary measures pertaining to COVID-19. The following key points were shared by the SSB representatives:

FERRY CLOSURE - NOTICE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC
The Ministry of Works would like to announce that the LAGUNA SECA Ferry will be closed on Saturday, March 21st from 8:00 A.M. to Monday, March 23rd at 5:00 P.M. The objective is to do urgent repairs to the structure and also to take advantage to address minor issues that the ferry requires. Apologies to any inconveniences caused by this situation, but repairs are necessary to have this ferry back to safety standards, as it will bring much relief to motorists that use the ferry on a daily basis. Ministry of Works

The hammock bridge is down in Santa Familia Village. A tree got it
We would like to inform all our villagers that a tree fell on the hammock bridge (Branch Mouth bridge connecting San Ignacio/Santa Elena to Santa Familia Village). If you know of someone travelling through there this morning,do check if him/her is fine. We will do our best to have it fixed as soon as possible.

Notice - postponement of Taste of Belize
In compliance with Government's advisory to limit social gatherings with the aim to mitigate the impact and spread of COVID-19, the Belize Tourism Board hereby informs the general public that it has decided to postpone its signature event TASTE OF BELIZE which was scheduled for May 16th, 2020. The BTB apologizes for any inconvenience caused. We will advise you of the new date once it has been determined. If you have any questions or concerns, kindly contact us via Tel 227-2420 or email at pr©belizetourismboard.org

The works continue at the Yarborough Green
Here are some photos of what has been accomplished so far. The photos will show the football field, the police booth, perimeter pedestrian walkways, concrete benches, bleachers for the football field, male and female restrooms, lighting, and an area for track and field.

Caye Caulker RC School Home Based Learning
The Caye Caulker RC School announces that they will use WhatsApp as its home based learning plan to provide meaningful engagement for the students of Caye Caulker R C School.

Department of Transport COVID-19 Overcrowding rules
1. The public is advised to report over-crowding of public transportation, including buses, busitos, “dalla vans”, taxis, and water taxis. Report all cases to 610-8163. 2. Daily commuters are encouraged to take alternative buses in the morning and evening to avoid travel during rush hours. Employers are encouraged to be flexible with working hours to accommodate their staff as this situation continues to evolve. 3. The public is advised with immediate effect that commuters are required to board and exit buses in an orderly fashion. Note that the peak hours for workers are at 5:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m...

SPTC working on the streets of the Escalante Sub-Division
Despite being busy with COVID-19 preventative measures, the San Pedro Town Council is still working hard with its daily tasks. Early this week, our team was busy working on the streets of the Escalante Sub-Division.

Ministry of Natural Resources COVID- 19 Risk Mitigation and Response Actions
In the interest of public health and safety and due to circumstances regarding COVID-19, the Ministry hereby informs the public of the following: • All offices countrywide will be closed to the public for tomorrow, Friday, March 20, 2020. A notice will be issued to inform of when offices will reopen. • Effective immediately, Heads of Department and Sections will only attend to the public by appointments. To schedule an appointment, please contact the customer service section at (501)828-5028.

Public Transportation Protocol for COVID-19
The Department of Transport has been working closely with the Ministry of Health to address the challenges of COVID-19 in order to safeguard and protect the health of the public. The following protocols have been put in place by the Department of Transport: 1. The public is advised to report over-crowding of public transportation, including buses, busitos, “dalla vans”, taxis, and water taxis. Report all cases to 610-8163.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Clarifies Travel of Guatemalans from Belize
It has come to the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that misinformation is being circulated concerning the entry, transit and exit of Guatemalan nationals to and from Belize. The Embassy of Guatemala in Belize has informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that a few Guatemalan nationals are being repatriated to Guatemala with transit through Belize. In doing so, the Embassy has coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with the Ministry responsible for Immigration. The Ministry further confirms that H.E. Georges de la Roche, the Ambassador for Guatemala to Belize, has fully respected all pertinent regulations including the most recent travel advisory, which does not prohibit the entry of Guatemalan nationals into Belize.

Advice to Shipping Community on COVID-19
The Belize Port Authority announced that a decision has been taken by the government of Belize to close off border entry points in an attempt to battle the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic All maritime traffic is prohibited from entering into Belize, with some exceptions.

Closure of Daycare Centers
The Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation advises the public that effective Saturday, March 21st, 2020 all daycares will suspend operations until Monday, April 20th, 2020 when schools are scheduled to reopen. This decision is under the advice of the Ministry of Health and in line with the school closures announced by the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture to reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Facilities in which children congregate such as schools and daycares can be particularly fertile places for the spread of contagious illnesses, with babies and toddlers especially susceptible to the spread of infectious diseases.

Temporary schedule for San Pedro Belize Express water taxi, beginning Sunday March 22

Groceries Delivered to Deserving Members of Caye Caulker Community
In continuation of Women's month, Sergeant Avila along with the women of the CCPD as well as members of the CCBTIA were active this morning in delivering hampers with groceries to deserving members of the community. This was indeed a wonderful initiative very well accepted by the recipients as the hampers will come in handy especially in this sensitive time. We once again thank Sergeant Avila and all the entities involved for working hand in hand for the people of our island.

Ministry of Natural Resources Announcement
In the interest of public health and safety regarding COVID-19, the Ministry of Natural Resources has informed the public of the following: All offices countrywide will be closed to the public for tomorrow, Friday, March 20, 2020. A notice will be issued to inform of when offices will reopen. Effective immediately, Heads of Department and Sections will only attend to the public by appointments. To schedule an appointment, please contact the customer service section at (501)828-5028. The Ministry continues to develop its capacity to provide online services and therefore encourages customers to visit the Ministry’s website to access these services. For persons who wish to submit an application to the National Hydrological Service or the Mining Unit, the forms can be retrieved from the Ministry’s website at http://naturalresources.gov.bz/ or the Ministry’s Facebook page, and can be emailed using the respective email addresses below.

Petition: Cancel Utility Payments for Belizean Households
COVID 19 is now a pandemic that has resulted in the loss of employment for many people. Many of these people were already in low paying positions and facing economic hardships. Families will now have to be at home for all or most of the day especially during this warm time. This will result in increase in extremely important utilities such as electricity, water and internet. The citizens are calling for the Government of Belize to cancel (changed base on comments by public) the cost of utilities especially to households and those that will be affected the most. We are asking that you look at people below a pay scale, single and poor households and those employees in certain industries that will be affected by the shut down.

COROZAL FREE ZONE BOARD MAKES CLARIFICATION
In a release today, the Executive Chairman of the CFZ stated that as a result of on-going queries and misinformation in relation to coronavirus and activities of the Corozal Free Zone advises the following: 1. The Corozal Free Zone Administration continues to remain keenly abreast of the Government of Belize advisories on cross-border requirements for the movement of nationals and others traveling from certain countries of concern. Ministry of Health Advisory #11 dated Sunday, 15th March, 2020 (attached) specified that at that date , those countries are China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, South Korea and Europe. Consequently, nationals of those countries, Belizeans and naturalized Belizeans traveling from those countries will not be allowed entry into the CFZ . The CFZ staff continues to monitor visitors, employers and employees to ensure the safety of everyone who works in the Zone.

The San Ignacio & Santa Elena House of Culture -NICH will be closing

Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Belmopan, Belize
All travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City is currently open however US airlines that provide service are curtailing or cancelling flights in and out of Belize. Below are the customer service numbers and websites to contact major airlines with flights from Belize to the United States. • American Airlines: AA has announced they will cancel all flights in/out of Belize as of March 26, 2020 o 1 800-433-7300 or 1 800-633-3711 o www.aa.com • Delta Airlines: Delta has announced they will only provide one flight per day in/out of Belize as of April 1, 2020 o 1 800-221-1212 o www.delta.com • Southwest Airlines: o 1 800-435-9792 o www.southwest.com • United Airlines: UA has announced they will only provide one flight per day in/out of Belize as of April 1, 2020 o 1 800-864-8331 o www.united.com

Paradise Theater playing this weekend
Birds of Prey, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Invisible Man

Channel 7

Many Versions to The Western Border Situation
Social media went wild today when a leaked voice note from Ambassador Said Badi Guerra went viral.  It tells the story of how two Guatemalan residents who may be COVID-infected - and are Canadian nationals - used the Belize Airport to get back to Guatemala.   Our information is that they arrived at the PGIA at 11:00 am, and with the facilitation of the Guatemalan Embassy in Belize, were supposed to be taken straight over the Melchor.  Even though that border is closed - they are still letting nationals and residents in.   Guerra explains in his voice note how the deal went down and how it went wrong - followed by the Ministry of Health's version given this morning:

Minister and CEO Temper Ambassador Said's Scare
And while that is an issue, going back to the conflicting accounts of Guerra and Manzanero, there are two different versions of the same story, and so we followed up with Ambassador Badi-Guerra's ministerial boss, Wilfred Elrington. After today's very brief budget debate in Belmopan, we asked him about it, and he candidly said that he had no information about the incident: Hon. Wilfred Elrington - Minister of Foreign Affairs: "Let me be very candid and tell you that I don't have the details on any of that, I don't have the details on any of that but I can you promise you that I will get it and then you contact me tomorrow and I'll give you what I know."

Testing Stepped Up In Belize
And while that story caused a buzz this morning, the real news was at the Press Office in Belmopan where the Ministry of Health's top experts gave the latest update on the state of testing, readiness and response to COVID-19.   It was their regular briefing on all things Coronavirus, called "Ask the Experts". The Director of Health Services pointed to the fact that since El Salvador and Nicaragua last night confirmed their first cases - Belize stands alone in Central America, and on the American mainland as having no positive tests for COVID-19. He says they have stepped up testing:

American Airlines Will Suspend Flights to Belize
And while those test kits are coming, there's not going to be much else coming in. That is because American Airlines, the US carrier with the most flights to Belize has announced that it will suspend all services effective next Thursday.  It signals something very close to a death knell for tourism interests and employees, but, right now, it's the reality all over the world.   Presently, Belize has closed all ports of entry except the northern border with Mexico and the PGIA, and flights are only trickling in there.  Manzanero spoke about shutting down air travel, while the Director of Immigration spoke about the protocol for Belizeans coming home - even those who may have flu-like symptoms:..

Blocking Illegal Border Crossings
So while home is still the place that when you go there, they have to let you in,   Baptist-Estrada made it clear: don't - under any circumstances - enter Belize through an illegal border crossing.  That's where El Salvador's first case came from: someone entering the country from Italy through an illegal point of entry. Baptist-Estrada said those have to be shut down:

House Speaker Sets Tone, Parliament Takes COVID-19 Seriously
And when that "Ask the Experts" session finished at a few minutes to ten in the Government Press Office - which is on the ground floor of the National Assembly Building, attention shifted to the chamber upstairs where the House of Representatives met for the annual budget debate.  It's usually a two day marathon of malice, full of self proclamation on one side, and fault-finding on the other, when slings and arrows are hurled in wholesale volume.  But, a debate in a time of Corona is a different thing altogether.  There was really no debate, which we'll tell you about shortly. 

PM Takes Pay Cut In As COVID Consideration
Shortly after acknowledging the Speaker's concerns that the Area Reps were violating the social distancing best-practices with this House Meeting, the Prime Minister jumped straight into the important House business that prompted the sitting. His only extended remarks for the day was an announcement that he and the other ministers of government are taking a pay cut. He added that these deducted salaries would become part of the 25 million-dollar relief fund that is being set up for the tourism stakeholders who are hurting because all international travel around the world has stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Suspends Debate Out Of COVID Concern
So, we turn now to today's budget debate in the House of Representatives that wasn't really a budget debate.  Both the Barrow Administration and the Opposition PUP have decided to cooperate and pass the General Revenue Appropriation Bill for the fiscal year 2020/2021 without any drama. This same Bill allowed the Government to seek parliamentary approval to borrow those 25 million dollars in relief funds that the Prime Minister has promised to the tourism stakeholders, while the global economy melts under COVID-19. As we told you, there is usually a lot of political mudslinging at budget debates. But it was decided that for this debate, only Opposition Leader John Briceno would give his presentation and that there would be no response or rebuttal from the Government's side.

House Still Had Legislative Business
Other important housekeeping business that was addressed at today's meeting included the passing of the Treasury Amendment Bill of 2020 and the Supreme Court of Judicature Amendment Bill of 2020. The Treasury bill will allow for treasury notes to mature in 20 years, instead of its past 10-year maturity rate. The Supreme Court of Judicature Amendment Bill will allow, among other things, for the establishment of the Court to Prison Video live link, and it will also allow for the Chief Justice to make practiced directions for the court instances of public interest and national security. You'll remember that the court has suspended all cases and hearings for several days now. Here's what the Prime Minister had to briefly say about these two bills when he introduced them today:

Guat Embassy Says Their Citizens Can Enter & Trasnit Belize
At the top of the news, you heard all sides of the big flap at the Western border after two Guatemalan residents were passed from the airport to Benque Viejo under circumstances which have bene questioned.   Well, coming into our newsroom just a few minutes ago is the account of the Guatemalan Embassy in Belize.  They say that the Phillip Goldson International has no restrictions on the entry of Guatemalans who wish to return and be repatriated to Guatemala.

Will Omar Be The UDP Star?
And then there were three Cayo North's Omar Figueroa has submitted his name as a candidate for UDP Leader.  He did so this morning, joining Patrick Faber who put in his name on Monday, and John Saldivar who did the same on Tuesday.  Now, the expectation was that Figueroa would put in his name and run unopposed as a consensus candidate, since the party had indicated to both Faber and Saldivar that they should stand down after the debacle of the February convention.  

Justice Michelle Arana Elevated, First Woman Acting CJ
For the first time in Belize's history, the acting Chief Justice is expected to be a woman. She is Justice Michelle Arana who is expected to take over, as former CJ Kenneth Benjamin reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 today.  Arana - who has been a Supreme Court judge since 2006 - is expected to take over as acting CJ, because she is the most senior judge on the bench.  Her appointment would most likely be temporary until a new permanent Chief Justice can be found.  

Police Change Strategy: Less Checkpoints More Patrols
Close to one hundred persons are detained including those who have been brought in from out district as the southside state of emergency finishes its second day. Police have compiled a list of suspected gang members who they intend to pursue and detain for 30 days, in the first instance, and very likely for as many as sixty days. It's the strategy of a state of emergency in 8 zones of Belize city which was declared yesterday in response to 48 hours that saw 6 persons killed including two children and a mother.

COMPOL Wants Cops Off Their Cell Phones
And while they will have fewer fixed checkpoints, they also intend to have fewer policemen sleeping on the job, or racking up screentime on their cell phones.  The commissioner says that with all the boots on the ground many times they have their hands on their cell phones, and that has got to stop.

And A Curfew For Kids
And while the cops will have to put down those cellphones; children will have to stay inside. A part of this state of emergency is a curfew for minors from 8 pm to 6 pm.  The commissioner and attorney general explained the rules for minors at night. Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police: "The regulation does call for a curfew for minors and as you know that we still have the families and children protection..."

Babylon the Bandit?
And while those measures are supposedly for community safety, one woman we spoke to who lost her boyfriend to gun violence takes a different view. She says that for those who live in the affected areas, this massive show of state-sanctioned force means very little in real terms for communities that have been systematically and structurally excluded.

Other Areas Put On Notice
And while he says he's loved in those neighborhoods, the commissioner put other Belize city blocks on notice, threatening to extend his department's footprint into other areas if gang related violence continues to spike. Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police: "While we have the state of emergency in Belize City and there are some areas that are not declared..."

Wanted Posters In Circulation
And in the areas currently under the State of emergency Crime stoppers has issued wanted posters for a number of murder suspects and rewards for information leading to their apprehension.  A $2,000 dollar reward is being offered for information in the murders of Phillip Leslie, Shakira White, Dominque Rhamdas, Kia Herbert, and Derrick King. Commissioner Williams said that they will aggressively circulate posters of crimes for which these persons are wanted.

Murders Caused By Cycle of Retaliation?
And while a lot of the suspects are known criminals, many are asking what has been behind this weeks explosive spate of killings, which has seen an extraordinary number innocent persons, and two children killed inside their homes. The commissioner said that it was mostly retaliation. Jules Vasquez: "What the public wants to know is if these are isolated or targeted attacks gone wrong or are they simply a cycle of retaliation that keeps playing out with indiscriminate acts of wanton violence."

COMPOL Scolds The Judiciary
And while no one has been arrested for any of those crimes, yet. The commissioner had a significant public complaint to make about the judiciary. Now, this is not a line that law enforcement usually crosses since the judiciary is strictly independent and protected from reckless criticism by contempt laws.  But, yesterday, the commissioner went out of his way to publicly castigate magistrates who he believes are too lenient with persons convicted of being a gang member.

Post Mortem Examinations Closed to Families
All three reports have been published in full on the Ministry of National Security website.   One interesting side-note that came out of yesterday's press conference was that the families of the soldiers were not allowed to view the bodies or witness the post mortem.  Captain Bennett told us why:

Calling All Hospitality Industry Workers
The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the world and Belize's economy has taken a major hit to its vital tourist industry. Tonight Ted Tejada, President of the Belize Hotel Association is reporting that hotel occupancy is down to between 5 and 10%. That's a projection that's bound to get much worse as today the United States, Belize primary tourist market, sent out an advisory for U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to COVID-19. So, may hotels are facing the prospect of massive layoffs or even temporary shutdowns, until the market rebounds - and who knows when that is.

Handwashing, Both Art And Science
Belize remains free of any confirmed cases on COVID-19 but keeping it that way is an immense challenge. And in preparing for the eventuality of fighting the virus, the public has been told time and time again that handwashing is the single most important preventative measure.  That's why the Ministry of Education and its partners designated today, as National Handwashing Awareness day.

Cops: Woman Had A Gun On Bus
Anna Herrera, a 23-year-old mother from San Pedro Town, is at the Belize Central Prison tonight. That's after she was caught by police trying to transport a loaded handgun on a bus. Police say that they busted her today when they stopped a passenger bus in Hattieville. The officers searched the bus for illegal drugs and firearms, and that's when they found Herrera's bag.

Dept of Transport Scolds Buses
And, speaking of buses, COVID-19 may be forcing Belize's Department of transport to finally treat commuters like human beings. A press release from the Department of Transport, urges the public to report over-crowding of buses, busitos, "dalla vans", taxis, and water taxis.  The number to call is 610-8163. Indeed, with public gatherings limited to 100 persons, and social distancing a national priority - bus transport round counter to all that.  We know too well about busses often cramming almost 10o persons, in standees and seated commuters unto crowded runs, it could be an incubator for COVID-19.


Re: Today's Belize News: March 20, 2020 [Re: Marty] #541151
03/20/20 07:01 AM
03/20/20 07:01 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 66,973
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

.
Marty  Offline OP

Channel 5

The 2020 Budget Debate That Wasn’t, Thanks to COVID-19
In Belmopan this morning, the Leader of the Opposition John Briceño responded to the budget for the new financial year.  There was no debate since the threat of COVID-19 is [...]

Johnny B Explains His Solo Performance in Parliament
Following today’s sitting of the House of Representatives, opposition leader John Briceño explained why other elected members of his party collectively abstained from debating the budget.  Not for the glaring [...]

Setting the Record Straight on Guatemalan Transit
Earlier today, word spread like wildfire that Guatemalan nationals were traversing Belize from the Philip Goldson International Airport to the western border and that their transit through the country was [...]

Sedi on Closing Down the P.G.I.A.
According to Elrington, a statutory instrument would have to be instituted in order to effect a travel ban for passengers entering the country via the P.G.I.A.   In that case, he [...]

Immigration Dept. Cracks Down on Illegal Border Crossings Due to COVID-19
As you may know by now, Nicaragua and El Salvador recorded their first cases of the novel coronavirus late Wednesday evening.  As it stands now, Belize is the only country [...]

An Update on Border Closures as a Result of COVID-19
Estrada also spoke on the official and legal border points. She notes that only two ports of entry remain open for Belize, those are the Philip Goldson International Airport and [...]

Airlines are Suspending Flights to Belize
On the issue of visitors and entry points, Director of Health Services Doctor Marvin Manzanero says that traffic through the P.G.I.A. is already significantly reduced and expected to dwindle further. [...]

Half of B.T.B. Staff to be Terminated; Lands Department Closing Offices
Aside from cancelations of events and activities, a number of government departments have been downsizing. News Five has confirmed that this afternoon the Director of the Belize Tourism Board met [...]

COVID-19 Disrupts Church Service
Churches across the globe are having to suspend services and alter practices during mass to avoid the spread of the corona virus.  Locally, this coming Sunday, masses have been called [...]

Anglican Bishop Speaks on Crime Situation
The recent spike in gun violence in the Old Capital claimed the lives of two innocent children in two separate incidents. Five-year-old Kia Herbert was fatally shot on Tuesday as [...]

Minister Faber Speaks on Spate of Crimes
Also speaking on the topic was Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport Patrick Faber. Kia Herbert was a constituent in the Collet Division which is, Faber’s constituency. The Minister says [...]

Secondary Legislation Drafted to Forward Court Proceedings in Wake of COVID-19 Threat
The courts are not immune to the corona virus threat. The Court of Appeal was the first to make a change in the judiciary and has suspended its sitting. On [...]

Bail Applications to be Heard Via Video Link
It has been established that the arraignment of persons for criminal acts continues as normal, even as a secondary procedure will be instituted at the courts for civil and criminal [...]

Precautionary Measures at the Court; Trials with Jury Postponed
Social distancing is a major recommendation as a preventative measure to halt the spread of COVID-19. The judiciary is taking no risks and has since postponed trials with jury until [...]

Supreme Court Empowered to Make Decisions in Times of National Emergency
Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, via the passage of the Supreme Court of Judicature Amendment Bill, will now be empowered to make decisions on occasions when there are matters of public [...]

A Look at the Latest Reports into the B.D.F. Helicopter Accident
As we promised, the following story looks at the two reports of the B.D.F. helicopter accident that were released late Wednesday evening.  The reports are produced by the Civil Aviation [...]

New Bills Introduced in the House of Representatives
Several pieces of proposed legislation were introduced in parliament today, notwithstanding the primary focus of the sitting being an aborted budget debate.  Before we get to those bills, the Prime [...]

Ministry of Health to Increase Testing for COVID-19
At the top of the newscast, we told you about the measures that the Department of Immigration is taking to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus via the Ministry of [...]

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Self-Isolation
During the sessions, health officials also spoke about the issue of self-isolation. Manzanero appealed to the persons who have been asked to go into self-isolation to take it seriously. Kathleen [...]

Who Are Most Affected by the Transmission of COVID-19?
During the live question and answer webcast, Director of Health Services was asked about vulnerable groups to the novel coronavirus. These are sections of the population that are more susceptible [...]

Caye Caulker Preparing for COVID-19
Even as Belize remains free of a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19, the entire country is bracing for the inevitability. There is already an economic downturn in the tourism sector, [...]

National Hand Washing Day; Clean Hands Save Lives
National Hand Washing Day was celebrated today; to mark the occasion hand washing stations were set up across the country where residents were exposed to proper techniques to keep your [...]

Healthy Living: COVID-19 Preparation
As the only country in Central America with no confirmed cases of COVID-19, Belize remains on high alert for suspected cases of the new virus. Tonight in Healthy Living, we [...]

Prime Minister will forgo his salary
Prime Minister Rt. Hon Dean Barrow has announced that Ministers of Government will forgo their salaries for one month. The monies will be allocated to efforts to prepare and fight COVID-19 in Belize. Moving forward, the Prime Minister will also forgo his salary and allowances until the COVID-19 crisis is over.

The Reporter

Department of Transport, COVID-19 Notice
The public is encouraged to plan ahead and consider traveling outside rush hours where possible in an effort to promote social distancing. Social distancing is one of the recommendations of the World Health Organization that can reduce the possibility of person-to-person virus transmission.

Labor Department – COVID-19 News
The Labour Commissioner has shared a release, indicating that the Labour Department is available to address employment concerns resulting from COVID:

TROPIC AIR ROUTE SUSPENSIONS & CARGO OPERATIONS CHANGE
Due to the extraordinary circumstances being brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tropic Air will have to suspend all flights to Orange Walk (Tower Hill) with immediate effect. This is in addition to the suspension of flights to Roatan, Honduras and Flores, Guatemala that were announced earlier this week, and were a result of those nations closing their borders. Cargo service to all stations, including package pick up and drop off, has also been amended. Cargo will now be available Monday to Saturday, until further notice.

LOVE FM

Belize declares National hand washing day
The Ministry of Education has declared today to be National Handwashing Day and have been joining various schools to teach children how to properly wash their hands. As such, the Belize Red Cross decided to follow suit.

Short and Sweet Budget Debate
This year’s budget debate went from the traditional 36-hour debate to one afternoon. That is because the Barrow administration agreed not to argue the budget and to allow the opposition to voice their concerns on the figures for the upcoming fiscal year 2020/2021. Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno spoke for over an hour, explaining that they must express their disagreement with the budget.

Immigration and Customs crack down on illegal border crossings
Concerns set in earlier today when a recorded message went viral stating that several Guatemalans were allowed to travel from the Philip Goldson International Airport to the western border. The concern heightened when the recording indicated that the taxi driver who took the Guatemalans to the western border is now under quarantine in Arenal.

Court hearings to be conducted via video link for prisoners
Coming out of today’s Sitting of the House of Representatives was a Bill for an Act to amend the Supreme Court of Judicature Act that will see court hearings being conducted via video links with prisoners at the Belize Central Prison. The Bill was rushed through its three readings this morning as a precautionary measure for the court staff, magistrates and judges.

Several businesses streamline staff and expenses
Economies around the world are taking a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While Belize remains free of the virus up to tonight, several businesses are already taking a hit. Tropic Air has begun streamlining its flights and staff as explained by their President, John Greif.

Stores run out of cleaning supplies
The shelves in stores that usually carry hand sanitizers, Lysol cans, alcohol and Clorox bottles are empty as Belizeans prepare for the inevitable arrival of COVID-19. Several store managers told Love News today that in 24 hours after restocking their shelves, they are empty again.

MOH established 24/7 hotline for COVID-19
As the threat of COVID-19 becomes more imminent, the Ministry of Health has established a 24-hour hotline that will respond to the concerns of the citizens and that will allow for suspected cases to be swabbed at home and then taken to the lab. This would eliminate the possible exposure of that suspected patient.

Prime Minister donates his salary and allowances to the COVID response fund and calls on other officials to follow suit
Parliamentarians met this morning in what would be the quickest Budget Debate the country has ever seen. Prior to the debate of the budget, the Speaker of the House, Laura Tucker-Longsworth took a few minutes to express a few sobering thoughts on today’s sitting and the looming COVID-19.

Belize remains COVID-19 free
It is another day to be thankful as Belize remains the last man standing in the western hemisphere as we remain COVID-19 free. Up to yesterday, El Salvador and Nicaragua were COVID-19 free but late last night both country leaders issued a public advisory on the confirmed cases.

Police officers rewarded
Six female Police Officers of the Belmopan Police Substation were given awards last night for their dedication and work efforts. Cayo correspondent, Fem Cruz has the details of the award ceremony.

Breaking Belize NewsPJ

New Flags in Santa Elena rationing flour to families; shoppers fingers inked
As Belize prepares for the threat of Covid-19, stores and supermarkets are already experiencing a […]

Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarifies travel of Guatemalans from Belize
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that misinformation is being circulated concerning the entry, transit […]

Government establishes public transportation protocol for COVID-19
The Department of Transport has been working closely with the Ministry of Health to address […]

Brands Helping Brands: McNab Visuals offers free exposure during Covid-19 tourism downturn
As the tourism industry reels from mass cancellations due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, […]

Belize Hotel Association represented the country at travel trade show in the US
Earlier this month, before the COVID-19 pandemic caused worldwide disruption of travel, representatives from the […]

Belize Port Authority announces closure of ports of entry
The Belize Port Authority (BPA) announced today that, following a decision taken by the government […]

Belize Tourism Board advises stakeholders on airlines suspending flights to Belize
In preparations for an outbreak of COVID-19, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) assures partners and […]

All daycares to suspend operations until April 20
The Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation informed that effective Saturday, March […]

MOFA: Guatemalans were returning home, not prohibited from entering Belize
Several nationals from Guatemala who were transported from the Philip Goldson International Airport to the […]

Opposition Leader: COVID-19 emergency funds could be available next week
Now that the Budget has passed through the House of Representatives, relief and emergency funds […]

New bills introduced in part to help COVID-19 fight and recovery
Prime Minister Dean Barrow in presenting the amendments to the Treasury Bills and Supreme Court […]

Fallen tree tears down Branch Mouth bridge
Many workers use the Branch Mouth bridge connecting San Ignacio/Santa Elena to Santa Familia Village […]

Prime Minister updates on COVID-19: ‘last one standing in Central America’
Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow told the House of Representatives today, Belize appears to be […]

Oceana responds to fishermen associations over gillnet disagreement
Following a joint statement issued yesterday by several fishermen associations rejecting a $2.5 million proposal […]

Truncated Budget Debate proceeds without spectators
In these “interesting times,” the annual two-day extravaganza that is the debate of the General […]

Another UDP hopeful applies to be leader
Omar Figueroa, the UDP’s Cayo North Area Representative has applied to become the next leader […]

Galen University leads the way – all classes and services continue online despite main campus closure
Galen University is leading the way in innovative learning measures amidst the coronavirus pandemic that […]

Health officials urge Belizeans to avoid all non-essential travel
The Government of Belize’s informational video segment, ‘Ask the Experts’ this morning fielded various questions […]

Tropic Air informs customers of route suspension and cargo operations change
Tropic Air has informed that due to the extraordinary circumstances being brought about by the […]

House discusses additional bills at meeting
The House of Representatives will debate three additional bills at this morning’s meeting, now moments […]

BELTRAIDE implements measures in preparations for Covid-19
Stemming from the global COVID-19 outbreak, the Government of Belize announced a series of measures […]

Airlines grounding flights to Belize
The Ministry of Health’s video segment, ‘Ask the Experts’ this morning confirmed that several airlines […]

Labour Department to address COVID-19 employment concerns
The Office of the Labour Commissioner, Ann Marie Thompson, says her Department is available and […]

Blogs

A Beginner’s Guide to Water Activities in Belize
If your idea of a perfect vacation includes lots of time spent on or around the water, Belize should be at the top of your list. In addition to miles of gorgeous Caribbean beachfront, Belize has hundreds of waterways including rivers, lakes, lagoons, and bays. Here are some top and popular water-based activities you can do in Belize.

International Sourcesizz

The British High Commission strongly encourages all non-resident British nationals in Belize to consider leaving as soon as possible
Message to non-resident British nationals in Belize, The British High Commission strongly encourages all non-resident British nationals in Belize to consider leaving as soon as possible due to travel restrictions related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is in order to try and reduce the significant difficulties you are likely to face with flights getting out of the country and the region. Failure to act now may mean you are unable to get home for the foreseeable future. To leave Belize please contact your airline or travel company and your insurance provider as soon as possible to make arrangements. Things arc moving fast, don't delay action.

State Department to raise travel warnings for Americans
The State Department is expected to raise the Global Travel Advisory to Level 4: Do Not Travel, citing the coronavirus pandemic, two U.S. officials with knowledge told NBC News. The guidance comes as Americans traveling in countries abroad struggle to make their way home amid widespread border closures and nationwide quarantines as countries scramble to contain the outbreak. It was less than one week ago, the State Department raised the global travel advisory to level 3, Reconsider travel.

You Can Virtually Tour 1,200+ of the World’s Most Famous Museums From Home
Now you can visit the most famous museums around the world without ever getting up off the couch. Although staying at home can be easy for some, others may feel anxious to find enriching activities they can do while also practicing safe social distancing. Fortunately, art and museum enthusiasts can now travel the globe and view world-famous art from the sanctity of their living room, thanks to Google Arts & Culture.

What Can Vampire Bats Teach Us About Socializing In A Pandemic?
Vampire bats have complex social networks, forming relationships with other bats that can vary on a spectrum of cooperation and conflict. When bats are bonded, social behavior is expressed in two main ways: grooming and sharing food, which means regurgitating blood into another bat’s mouth. “When we introduced them in isolated pairs they formed relationships much faster, like college students in a dorm room,” Carter said to Science Friday earlier this week. “And when we introduced a bat into a group of three, that was faster than when we just put two larger groups together.”

UTSA archaeologists rescue Maya royal vessels missed by looters
The looters’ trench was not small. And it definitely was not a one-man job. It stretched 4 feet wide and ran over 30 feet deep into an ancient Maya pyramid in Belize. By some miracle—or perhaps, Indiana Jones’ luck—the thieves passed just over a royal tomb with elaborate painted drinking cups used by nobility who ruled the kingdom 1,300 years ago. “The looters missed the royal tomb by just a few centimeters,” said Jason Yaeger, the President’s Endowed Professor of Anthropology at UTSA and associate dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, who leads a team of researchers with M. Kathryn Brown, the Lutcher Brown Professor of Anthropology.

Videos

  • ASK THE EXPERTS Vol. 3, 41min. A Weekly Webcast and Q&A on Covid 19 Live on the Government Press Office Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/GOBPressOffice)

  • Belize, 2min.

  • Belize Barrier Reef Shallow Dive, 18min. 18 minute video of scuba diving in Belize near Hopkins along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

  • CAYE CAULKER MEETING WITH RESTAURANT OWNERS AND PUBLIC BY THE VILLAGE COUNCIL AND HEALTH OFFICIALS REGARDING COVID-19, 74min.

  • THE AMAZING ORIN "COCO" ORIO: MAKING BELIZEAN FOOTBALL GREAT AGAIN!, 35min. It can be said that Belizean football superstar and one of the best goalkeepers Belize had ever seen during the golden days of the 1970s and 80s Belizean football greatness countrywide is the legendary Orin "Coco" Orio from the "Culture Capital" of Belize Dangriga in the southern Stann Creek District of Belize. Orio, like Rupert "Canalayte" Anderson, had a spread across the goal like an albatross. They were both tall, perhaps measuring some six feet or more, and understood how to cover the four corners of the net with their long arms. But Orin Orio may have stepped the game up to a new level being that he was a junior to the veteran 'keeper' "Canalayte" and had brought in some new moves. Orio would make it look easy from any side of the bleachers you were watching him work...

  • Next Gen Croc Drone Surveys Placencia, Belize, 1min. Next Gen Croc Placencia provides mentorship and opportunities for youth to participate in research with the CRC. Currently, our students are conducting weekly drone surveys to monitor manatee and crocodiles of the Placencia Lagoon, as well as collect data of the flora and fauna to further supplement data to assist in the legal protection of this critical ecosystem that is important for biodiversity and local communities.

  • EXPLORING BELIZE - RIO FRIO PART 3, 6min. The last part of my three part series exploring the Rio Frio river in Belize. This was an amazing experience to see many of the wonderful fish we keep in the aquarium hobby, living in the wild! This location at Big Rock Falls, definitely had the largest selection of fish, mostly beautiful green swordtails! Lots of inspiration for a potential biotope here!

  • Hammock Bridge - Belize 2020, 4min. This Bridge as they call it "The Hammock Bridge " was in some in September 2018, there was a lower one but, because of the flooding, it use to cover, so they decide to built a bigger better and higher one, and so now, this is what happens,

  • Fly Fishing the Flats in Belize and Eating Fresh Lobster, 3.5min. Fishing the Reef in Belize.

  • Snorkeling in Belize at the 2nd largest barrier reef!!, 2.5min.

  • Secret Beach Belize - Drone Video on a Sunny Afternoon, 1min. Cause we could all use a little blue sky, warm water and sunshine right about now. (and a cold beer wouldn't be that bad either)

  • BELIZE - Reef to Jungle, 20min. The Vativ team and friends head down to Belize for 5 days in San Pedro and 5 days in the Belizean jungle. Belize has quickly become one of our favorite places to visit with so many incredible adventures. From the barrier reef to the jungle outside of Belmopan, we experienced a whole new side of this amazing country.

  • SportsLab on the National Channel, 54min.


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