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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
National State of Emergency declared for Belize; Prime Minister addresses the nation
On Tuesday, March 31st, Prime Minister Right Honourable Dean Barrow addressed the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation affecting Belize and shared details of the planned National State of Emergency. The nationwide state of emergency, which begins at midnight on Wednesday, April 1st, was triggered after the country registered its third confirmed case on Sunday, March 29th. The conference also discussed financial aid for those without employment, and how those confined to Ambergris Caye can be assisted to return to their mainland homes.
Local restaurateur partners with the community to provide meals for those in need
After an initial 72-hour quarantine that was extended to 30 days on Ambergris Caye, a lot of people on the island found themselves displaced. As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through the world, economies are faltering and businesses have laid off countless staff. Ambergris Caye is tourism-based, and has seen its fair share of economic downturn. Nevertheless, there has been a surge of generosity from individuals and businesses who have come together to help those who cannot help themselves. We highlight one particular person who made the call to bring hot meals to those who are in no position to feed themselves.
Cruise Lines Extend Suspension of Cruises
Earlier this month all cruise lines announced that they would pause operations for 30 days. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, many of the major cruise lines have pushed back their starting date to resume operations. The following updates have been provided thus far:
• Carnival Cruise Line – all cruises suspended until May 11, 2020.
• Norweigan Cruise Line – all cruises suspended until the second week of May 2020.
TODAY TUESDAY 31 MARCH -
UPDATES FROM OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE'S PRESS CONFERENCE
1. $42 million dollars (BZD) from the Climate Resilience Improvement Program will be diverted to the COVID-19 Relief fund
2. $24 million dollars (BZD) will be disbursed to Boost in about 3 weeks (via IDB)
3. $50 million dollars from Social Protection Program
4. $10 million dollars that was for Infrastructure is being negotiated to have it diverted to the Ministry of Human Development to expand the Food Pantry program into rural areas
STATE OF EMERGENCY
5. State of Emergency goes into effect THURSDAY at 12:00am
6. From 8pm - 5am, EVERYTHING will be closed, NO ONE can be on the streets
Various Belizean Sources
COVID-19 Guidelines for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women
10am Press conference from the PM of Belize today. Here are some notes:
There was a third COVID case diagnosed yesterday in Belize City.
National State of Emergency starting April 2nd at 12.01am. Thursday morning. This INCLUDES San Pedro which is currently in quarantine.
Curfew from 8pm to 5am. Everything closed. NO ONE on the streets except a few designated people...
Do not visit the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic with flu-like symptoms
If you have flu-like symptoms, you can go to the new San Pedro Care Cente flu clinic, located in the Mar de Tumbo area, as show on the map below.
The Care Center, has a flu clinic, a pharmacy and a temporary separate isolation unit for COVID-19 cases.
Hours for the flu clinic are:
Weekdays, 8am – 5pm.
Weekends, 8am – 12 noon.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19: fever, dry cough, shortness of breathe and difficulty breathing, you can also text or call 605-2433.
Lino’s Meats Closed Wednesday
NOTICE: Lino’s Meats will be CLOSED tomorrow Wednesday! We will be opening on Thursday.
San Pedro Businesses, Hotels, Bars, Restaurants Open & Closed
Just a few updates from yesterday:
***Tune into Channel 20 at 7am to get the latest official news about town council/gov office openings, business rules/changes, etc. You can find some live broadcasts on their FB Page - @reeftv20 or Reef tv.
K Mart/ Caye Mart (near Palapa Bar) - Open Daily 7am-10am - Grocery Delivery available, WhatsApp 635-5678, or call 226-3446 to place delivery order before 10am...
A Message from the President of the University of Belize, Professor Clement Sankat, in Response to Belize’s State of Emergency
The University of Belize (UB) in line with this measure set forth by the Hon. Prime Minister of Belize, the UB Act of 2000 that governs the University’s operations, and in accordance with the previously announced date for the recommencement of the Semester, that is April 20th, 2020, the University wishes to advise that this date has to be postponed. Students, faculty, staff and the entire UB community as well as the University’s stakeholders will be guided by the University, at a later date, as to the exact date for the recommencement of classes. Bearing in mind the thirty (30) day State of Emergency, tentatively, classes may resume on May 4th, 2020 with examinations beginning on June 8th.
Belize Tourism Board Offers Hoteliers their March Hotel Taxes for COVID-19 Relief
The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) continues its efforts to keep tourism stakeholders updated on the measures being taken in Belize as it relates to COVID-19. We also recognize that the tourism industry has been tremendously impacted by COVID-19, with many stakeholders struggling to keep their staff employed. To alleviate some of the financial burden during these uncertain times, and to possibly assist with the payment of a portion of your staff salaries, the BTB will be implementing the following as a part of the COVID19 relief efforts:
Hoteliers are being asked to submit their Monthly Accommodation Tax Returns (MATRs) and Guest Registration Forms (GRFs) for March via the BTB Online Portal.
The BTB will automatically apply 100% tax credit for the total taxes assessed for the month of March, essentially resulting in Nil Accommodation Tax Due.
Ministry of Education, Youths, Sports & Culture ADVISES STUDENTS TO BOND WITH PARENTS AND PRACTICE EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES DURING STATE OF EMERGENCY
Classes cannot resume in April and the start date is unknown at this time. The Ministry of Education will be in communication regularly and will provide periodic updates.
This is a very difficult and worrisome time for everyone. Let us encourage students, teachers, parents and the entire country to practice hand washing regularly and social distancing. To the extent that this is possible, let us engage students in activities that are meaningful. Please avoid quizzes, tests, and exams during this very stressful period. Encourage them to read and bond with parents in activities such as cleaning,
cooking, sewing, and other important life skills.
Department of Youth Services Training Platform
The Department of Youth Services has 1000's of free online courses. With the quarantine in effect, now's the time to study online. Register with the DYS here, and learn about a subject that interests you. Finish 3 courses, and you'll receive a certificate of completion. "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – W.B. Yeats
"Interested in learning to edit videos? How about photoshop? Something educational?
We have the perfect platform to share with you!
Since we now have more time on our hands, a great way to keep yourself busy is to learn something new!
Belize Water Services Public Notice: Changes to Opening Hours
Why is the United States evacuating its citizens from Belize?
A. In times of emergency, the first priority of the U.S. Department of State is the safety of American citizens overseas. For that reason, throughout the world, we are working to ensure that Americans who want to return home are able to get home. We appreciate the efforts of the Belizean government to keep everyone safe. It is also understandable that many Americans will want to return to be with their friends and family at this time, especially those who did not plan for an extended stay in Belize...
The Nukuch Taato'ob between the Yucatec Maya (Máasewal) people of Belize are the earth guardian spirits of four cardinal points . The Nukuch Tat is the Maya guardian spirit of the forest,animals and humans . Nukuch Tat(singular) Nukuch Taato'ob(Plural). Yuumstil (God) created the Nukuch Taato'ob (Balames) to maintain the balance between humanity and Nature .
Our Divine creator Hunab Itzamna created the universe ,the world, Animals and humans. Yuumstil Itzamnaj assigned names to all of its features . Itzamnaj through conciousness taught humans about medicine and science . Hunab Itzamnaj also send his children the Nukuch Báalamo'ob(Tata Duendes) the earth guardians of the cardinal points to protect us .
Belize Archaeology Symposium 2020 canceled
In support of social distancing and protective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Institute of Archaeology NICH, has made the difficult decision to cancel the upcoming Belize Archaeology Symposium (BAS) which was scheduled for July 1-3, 2020.
The IA, NICH will continue its work towards the completion of the RRBA Volume 17 and will provide distribution information as soon as it is completed.
Nevertheless the IA/NICH will be available via email (firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com) should you may have any questions or concerns.
Regulations Outlined For National State of Emergency
The National State of of Emergency and curfew starts on Thursday morning at 12:01 AM. That's about 29 hours away, and today we all learned what it will mean for your personal movement, and your workplace - whether it will be classed as essential - and be allowed to continue, or non essential meaning work will stop.
The implications for national life are HUGE as Belize now faces a 30 day lockdown, but it's what we will call a soft lockdown.
Basically, the curfew is only between 8:00 and 5:00 in the morning, but those who go out in the day have to do it for a reason, like heading to the shop to buy supplies, or going to work at somewhere designated an essential service.
Essential Services Will Need A Pass
These new regulations will apply to all parts of the country, including San Pedro. They are still being finalised at this hour and the final list of what is essential and what is non essential has not been circulated.
But, for those who qualify as essential services, how will they get around during this time without police threatening to lock them down for 30 days? The chart of the COVID-19 task force explained the provision for passes:
When Will Financial Assistance Be Released?
At newstime, it was still not clear procedurally how those passes can be obtained. CEO Alpuche says the task force will open its own hotline to answer such questions but that has not been done yet.
As you can see, developments are moving faster than the details can be filled in - and that is bad news for those unemployed who lost their jobs in tourism and are waiting for that $150 dollar bi-weekly support.
Those that are able to have been checkin on the COVID19.bz website for the Financial Assistance form, but it's not there yet. We asked about it today:
PM: More Relief Funds Coming
But when disbursements of that financial assistance to the unemployed starts coming down - how long can it last?
Well, today the Prime Minister announced that he has gotten encouraging signals from Belize's multilateral partners and donor friends.
First, he said he spoke with the World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean who agreed that 21 million US dollars earmarked for the Climate Resilient Infrastructure Project will now be diverted to COVID relief.
That money will now be put into the pot to assist the unemployed, and especially the recently unemployed in the tourism sector.
Will there Be Relief for Businesses Forced To Shut Down?
And while unemployed persons have financial assistance coming their way soon, what about employers, or, soon-to-be former employers? Will there be any relief for the sea employed or small businesses who now have to shut down, presumably for 30 days, or maybe forever? Here's the Prime Minister's answer:...
"Will the self-employed be eligible for financial assistance and will small businesses that were forced to close due to poor sales and protection and precautionary measures will also be eligible?"
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister:
"Remember that the central bank has been working with the commercial banks and the other financial institutions..."
Employers Will Have To Send Employees Home
So, what about those employers who have to shut down shop for the next 30 days? What will they do with their employees? In fact, what obligations do they have to those employees in terms of notice pay even - now that a National State of Emergency has been declared?
Not much, according to the Prime Minister:
"If a state of emergency is declared and in consequence there of businesses are forced to close - that it seems to me comes under that very useful legal category of force ma·jeure. So that really is the answer..."
Foreign Exchange Getting Scarce
And for those businesses, especially merchants and importers who do manage to stay afloat in this tough time - where will they get the foreign exchange to purchase stock?
Belize's #1 foreign exchange earner, tourism has gone on an extended hiatus. So where's the hard currency going to come from.
The Prime Minister says this has to be dispensed on a priority basis:
Public Service Will Have to Trim The Fat
And while importers are feeling the pinch, so will public officers. A Government circular from the Financial Secretary proposes a wage freeze, a cut in expense allowances and gratuities and reduction in leave for contract workers.
By government's count, that should save 17 million dollars. PM says the senior managers are on board, and everyone else will have to be:
Briceno Supports State of Emergency
Notably, no wage cuts were proposed for government workers. Government's wage bill is almost half a billion dollars - and the initial projections are for a GDP contraction on more than 10%.
Financially, it's going to be deep hole for government to dig itself out of - but don't look for the opposition to try and make cheap points off it in a time of national crisis. Today, the Leader Of The Opposition shared the head table with the PM and said he supports the National State Of Emergency unreservedly:
Marisol, The Motive Behind The Mask
And, indeed, that has been the spirit of the bi-partisan, or non partisan, all out effort to contain COVID 19 before it takes a great toll on Belize.
It's a complete shift in the body politic - and only one sign of a Belize where almost everything has changed in just a few weeks. Jules Vasquez was looking for signs of the new normal in a fast changing landscape:
Fisheries Makes Out Or Season Lobster Bust
We're all preparing for the national curfew and the state of emergency. But while we do that, the Fisheries Department is still watching the seas for any illegal fishing activity. They're reporting tonight that they busted 4 Belizean fishers with 2 large crocus sacks of out-of-season lobster.
It happened on Sunday when a team of fisheries officers was heading to Belize City from their base in the South Water Caye Marine Reserve. They came upon a fishing vessel with 3 men and a woman.
A. Saldivar, Seen Some Troubles
Last night, we told you about the legal troubles that Arthur Saldivar, the well-known attorney, sometimes politician, was facing after his Facebook post from this weekend. Police accused him of spreading fake news and causing unnecessary panic. But, it appears that this post has gotten him into more problems than he anticipated.
We understand that since yesterday, he has been detained by police, and he could be facing firearms-related charges. Police have not decided just yet, but we understand that they may charge him for unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
The Nurse On the Frightening Frontline
Last night you listened in as Jules Vasquez spoke by phone with Ishelle Miller, a Belizean-American nurse on the COVID-19 frontlines of New York City.
You heard the horror in her voice as she described the events of recent and upcoming weeks as a dark, dark, time. And tonight we bring you the remainder of that conversation.
This time Miller recounts the emotional toll families experience not being allowed to visit their ailing loved ones and the complete breakdowns they can suffer during the regulation 5-minute visit with a family member dying of the Coronavirus.
When Will The Ventilators Arrive?
And, you heard Nurse Miller describe the importance of ventilators. She's at a hospital in New York where they have been able to keep enough ventilators in circulation, so far. But, in Belize there are only 10 at the KHMH. No other public hospital has one. But we've been hearing that there are more on the way, 6 more, then 20 more, then 28 more.But, none cyaah reach yet! So we asked DHS Marvin Manzanero about that today:
"The six that have been paid were supposed to have arrived yesterday. Two from a local supplier, 18 more, that makes 20, plus 8 more that we got from a private company. And Karl Huesner has right now 10: 6 upstairs and 4 downstairs."
The San Pedro Experience
San Pedro doesn't have any ventilator. But, right now what they have an abidance of is something we're all going to need in the next few weeks - and that is the experience of how to live within the confines of a state of emergency.
Indeed, as you heard at the top, tomorrow night when the clock strikes 12:00, Belize will enter a national state of emergency. It's the first since the national security crisis sparked by the rejection of Heads of Agreement in 1981. And if you, like the majority of Belizeans, were born after that date you might be wondering what a statewide lockdown is like.
Hope On The Horizon for Those Stuck On San Pedro
For those out of towners who were trapped on the island - the grim realities of living within a state of emergency are even more stark. They got caught there a week ago - and many have been pleading, when can they get off and return home?
Tracing Patient Zero's Contacts
And they got trapped there after patient zero - a San Pedro native who had travelled to Los Angeles tested positive for COVID 19. That 38 year old female also infected her mother. But what about the other close and not so close contact she had had withy 34 persons? Manzanero gave an update today:.,
Patient Three, The Investigation Is On
And what about patient three? As we have reported, he is self isolating at a home on the Northside of the city. But, city residents want to know more, like who and exactly where. Manzanero said that is off limits - they will do the contact tracing without the gossip grapevine:
"People who do the mapping are detectives. They want to go out and map out the area. I know there are concerns in terms of what happens with potential cases..."
The Quarantine Club
And while that 38 year old is allowed to self isolate at home, any Belizean re-entering the country at this time - now faces a mandatory quarantine at a Ministry of Health site. Manzanero says they have had a surprising number willingly going into Ã¥ two week quarantine at the northern border:
"What is the stream of returning Belizeans even now?"
Dr. Marvin Manzanero- Director of Health Services, MOH
"It's fluctuating. I guess immigration has a better grasp of counting all those but it's significant. I didn't know so many Belizeans were out but even on the weekend we had at least 9 people coming back home per day."
The Problem With Public Transport
And for those not facing quarantine, and who work in essential service, they want to know how they will be moving around for the next month during the national state of emergency. Well, the bus situation is even more complicated, because while public transport will be allowed to run within daylight hours, who will get on the bus if most folks are under quarantine. The PM says they bus operators wanly GOB to pay for their runs:...
No Cruise Ship Calls Anytime Soon
And while the bus companies wait to see if GOB will save them, we turn back now to an industry that's been all but completely obliterated by COVID-19, the cruise ship industry.
On March 13th the Belizean arm of that industry experienced its own armageddon when Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian cruise lines suspended operations for 30 days due to the pandemic. But if tour operators and vendors were hoping for a light at the end of that tunnel it's not so, because that initial 30 days has now been extended.
Man Burnt In Griga Fire
There was a house fire on the Melinda Road in Dangriga last night and it left a 53-year-old man hospitalized with burn injuries.
Police say that they showed up at around 9:47 p.m and they found a 15 foot by 20 foot wooden home engulfed in flames. Firefighters were busy trying to put the blaze out, but the cops did not find the homeowner at the property. They later visited the home of a man, and that's where they found 53-year-old Linsford Polonio.
KHMH Adjusts Visitors' Policy
On Monday, March 23rd the KHMH informed the nation that they had entered a state of emergency. At the time the hospital said that elective services had been postponed and amended clinic hours would be announced.
And today on the eve of the nationwide state of emergency the KHMH is announcing two changes to its emergency mode visitor's policy. They had already made clear that only one visitor per family would be allowed in the A&E Department and that was for special case patients: minors, those who require assistance, and those in a critical state.
No Visitors, No Revenue, Zoo Animals Need Food
This morning the Prime minister detailed just how he scrambled to secure funds with which to support the unemployed during the COVID-19 crisis and the ensuing national State of Emergency. But there's another population that will have to be fed. They are the residents of the Belize Zoo and the critters on hiatus from teaching Belize's youngest about wildlife will require fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat.
The Quarantine Kumbaya
And, so even as it seems that the world is closing in around us, all things considered, Belize is managing well enough so far with this global pandemic. OF 103 tests done, so far only 3 have come back positive - which is encouraging so far.
But, many of us are in uncharted territory and face an uncertain future. But, the Chairman of the national task force and CEO of The Ministry Of Human Development says we can all use this pandemic as an opportunity to put a few things in perspective:
Containing COVID, Its On You, Community
And, the Director of Health services kind of backed that up. After outlining the over two million dollars that government has spent on purchasing medical supplies and equipment, he says it's now on the community to do its part to contain the spread:
Can The Police Contain Mayhem?
And it's also the community's responsibility to keep calm. But can the public - especially the most needy - stay calm if this thing stretches on for months?
A few weeks ago we caught up with George Lovell CEO of National Security...
No Exercise During Lockdown
But, if folks are to stay under control - they will need an outlet, to at least get out of the house, and take a walk, or do some exercise. But is that even allowed under the curfew regulations? According to the Attorney General, if you're out of your house during the day, it must be with a purpose - and exercise is not one of them:
And, whole exercise is not allowed, one business did an exercise in kindness for frontline workers during the COVID crisis.
They have been going around making donations of hand sanitizers to the police, bus operators, and the hospital. This evening, they called us to pick up a donation of sanitizers for our newsroom for use on the job, while we try to keep you informed during this COVID-19 Pandemic.
One of the company's representatives told us why they see these donations as important:
State of Emergency Described In Full Details
Belizeans across the country continue to prepare for a nationwide shutdown to come into force on Thursday morning. Tonight, there is more clarity on the latest COVID-19 response and how [...]
PM Barrow – “No Means No!”
In light of government’s recent announcement of a countrywide lockdown, there have been dozens of business owners reaching out to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in an [...]
AG Says State of Emergency Can Be Lifted Before 30 Days
The legal parameters, as well as the technical details of the state of emergency, are being fine-tuned ahead of the Governor General’s assent to bring it into force. That declaration [...]
Who Are Essential Services, Does Your Job Qualify?
The media is considered an essential service and will continue to function during the state of emergency. Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte expressly described a number of organizations and businesses that [...]
Financial Aid is Coming from the IFIs
A significant sum of money to be borrowed from at least three international financial institutions, including the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as the Central American Bank [...]
Over $2 Million Spent Already to Acquire Ventilators & Other Medical Supplies
An initially budget of nine hundred thousand dollars was set aside to acquire medical equipment, such as ventilators and other medical supplies needed for the response to COVID-19. There were [...]
32 Ventilators for Fight Against COVID-19
Earlier in his presentation, Doctor Marvin Manzanero spoke about having procured thirty-two ventilators that will be used at public health facilities for those persons having a more severe case of [...]
San Pedro Still on Lockdown
Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, reported earlier today that as many as one hundred and three tests have been conducted across the country to detect the presence of [...]
Attorney Arthur Saldivar Arrested by Belmopan Police
Tonight attorney Arthur Saldivar remains at the Belmopan Police Station in lockdown. Saldivar’s legal woes began over a Facebook post over the weekend. He was held by the police and [...]
Association of Defense Attorneys Formed
A group of attorneys have formed an association that will focus on tackling issues affecting the poor population in Belize. They are called the Association of Defense Attorneys and will [...]
3 Persons Charged & Fined for Breach of Curfew on San Pedro
Police are swiftly enforcing state of emergency regulations. In San Pedro where a mother and daughter have the virus, three persons were charged with “Breach of Curfew Conditions.” This is [...]
132 Out-of-Season Whole Lobsters Confiscated
Fisheries personnel were on patrol on Sunday when they came across a vessel with four persons who threw their cargo of one hundred and thirty-two whole lobsters overboard. As you [...]
Cruise Lines Suspend Calls to Port Until May
There is no definitive period to say when the COVID-19 pandemic will be over, but most people agree that it will take months for economic activity to normalize. In the [...]
What About Cable Services & the Integrity of Internet Infrastructure?
At today’s press conference, while on the topic of essential services, the head table was asked about cable companies and internet service providers. A large chunk of the workforce will [...]
Health Workers Wahn Get Handled Good
Health workers, who are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, are being taken care of by the government, which has made available a compensation package that will cover [...]
Bus Association Says That They Need Help ASAP!
Unlike health workers, bus operators believe they are being left out in the cold when it comes to support during this pandemic. Today, Secretary of the Belize Bus Association called [...]
S.S.B. Amends Benefits Regulation
The Social Security Board has positioned itself to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The S.S.B. says that it remains committed to safeguarding the health, safety and well-being of [...]
At Least 9 Belizeans Returning Home Daily
All entry points into the country were closed on March twenty-third except for cargo. As you know commercial flights, cruise ships have been suspended and the movement across the borders [...]
Has Third Coronavirus Patient Remained Self-isolated?
The third victim to have been diagnosed with the coronavirus returned to Belize from New York on March twentieth before showing symptoms of illness five days later. While the thirty-eight-year [...]
When Will Belize Return to Normal?
At this time, there is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19. And it is not expected that one will be approved until eighteen months down the road. During his appearance [...]
“Adopt A Child with Disability”
There’s a small non-governmental organization that is making a difference in the lives of children living with a disability. “Adopt a Child with Disability” is a non-profit operating out of [...]
Quarantine Survival – Rumajay’s Virtual Fetes
For thirty days, starting midnight on April first, the nationwide shutdown restricts non-essential businesses from opening and non-essential workers from moving around in an effort to prevent the possible spread [...]
Quarantine Survival: “Quaraoke” – Quarantine + Karaoke
One teacher says that being at home with children, who are out of school, is an opportune time to do fun, safe activities in the yard. Tremett Perriott, over the [...]
I.D.B. Discusses COVID-19 and the Caribbean
On Monday afternoon, the Inter-American Development Bank held a webinar to talk about COVID-19 and the implications on the Caribbean. During the live online show, Therese Turner Jones of the [...]
I.D.B. Invest Outlines Support for Private Sector
The private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank, the IDB Invest, was also a part of the webcast discussion. C.E.O. James Scriven spoke about how they are engaging their [...]