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Updated COVID-19 Response Measures #542627
05/28/20 10:50 AM
05/28/20 10:50 AM
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Tune in tomorrow, May 29, at 10:00 a.m. to view the Prime Minister's Virtual Press Conference on Updated COVID-19 Response Measures.

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Re: Updated COVID-19 Response Measures [Re: Marty] #542632
05/28/20 01:11 PM
05/28/20 01:11 PM
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There's word that very shortly, there will be a further relaxation of the current measures under the State of Emergency to allow for more businesses, particularly the ones that fall under entertainment, to open.

The Reporter has received information that within a few days, casinos that are not near the borders will be allowed to reopen, but with strict rules that prohibit the sale of liquor. The curfew laws will change only on Fridays and Saturdays to 9:00 p.m., but will remain at 8:00 on all other days.

Gyms and non contact sport will also be able to operate and the maximum number of persons that will be allowed in a gathering will also be increased from 10.

The full details, including the opening of the Philip Goldson International Airport will be in this week's printed edition of the Reporter newspaper.

==================

New State of Emergency Regs Announced Tomorrow

45 days, that's how long Belize has gone without a positive test for COVID-19, and, in response, tomorrow the Prime Minister will announce a further relaxing of public health measures designed to contain the virus.

According to sources, first off, these include bringing back Boledo. That's right, the numbers game that Belizeans love so dearly has been suspended since April 10th. Now, it is scheduled to return on Monday, June first. But it won't be business as usual. 7News has learnt that social distancing measures will be required for purchasing tickets. Boledo franchise operator, Brads had no comment today.

And there's also good news for street vendors, from those who sell tacos and hot dogs, to the ones who offer freshly cut fruit. After more than two months with no business, they will now be allowed back on the street, but, again, with social distance requirements and hand washing protocols in effect.

And, there's also good news for gamblers, Casinos will be allowed to open, but with social distancing in effect, and one more requirement - no liquor can be served at these gambling establishments.

And, indoor restaurants will be allowed to re-open, but with social distance requirements between tables.

And there will be a little more time to have a weekend dinner out - because on Friday's and Saturday's, the curfew will be extended from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Next, permitted social groupings will be expanded from 10, to 40.

And, fishers will also get some relief, because recreational fishing will now be permitted.

And while those are all key elements for social living - tourism interests are pressuring for the airport to open. Well, best information says government is CONSIDERING opening the international airport in early July. But, again, any visitor would have to have a negative COVID test taken with the past 48 hours - which, critics say, is both unrealistic and ineffective. And while that still has to be worked out, American Airlines has its first flights to Belize booked for July 7th, so let's see where that goes.

Worryingly, there is still no plan for re-opening schools yet, but there will be a national virtual graduation on June 21st.

Again, these - and other relaxed measures - are to be announced by the Prime Minister tomorrow, and will take effect on Monday.

And while an apparently leaked message with somewhat similar information has been making the rounds on WhatsApp - that isn't our source, and a message from the Office of the Prime Minister warns, quote, "the notes being circulated via social media and other channels purportedly from the National Oversight Committee are not official.

The public is advised to disregard the information as it is inaccurate and misleading. The official summary of the committee meeting and new measures will be presented by the Prime Minister via a virtual press conference on Friday, May 29 th , at 10:00 a.m. This will be followed by an explanation of the amendments to the statutory instrument by the Attorney General on Saturday, May 30 th , at 3:00 p.m. on the Ask the Experts webcast." End quote.

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Re: Updated COVID-19 Response Measures [Re: Marty] #542634
05/29/20 04:06 AM
05/29/20 04:06 AM
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The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) hereby informs the public that the notes being circulated via social media and other channels purportedly from the National Oversight Committee are not official.

The public is advised to disregard the information as it is inaccurate and misleading. The official summary of the committee meeting and new measures will be presented by the Prime Minister via a virtual press conference on Friday, May 29th, at 10:00 a.m. This will be followed by an explanation of the amendments to the statutory instrument by the Attorney General on Saturday, May 30th, at 3:00 p.m. on the Ask the Experts webcast.

The Office of the Prime Minister reminds the public to rely on information being shared by official government sources.

Re: Updated COVID-19 Response Measures [Re: Marty] #542652
05/29/20 10:31 AM
05/29/20 10:31 AM
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Live: Prime Minister's Virtual Press Conference on Updated COVID-19 Response Measures



This will be followed by an explanation of the amendments to the statutory instrument by the Attorney General on Saturday, May 30th, at 3:00 p.m. on the Ask the Experts webcast.

PGIA will NOT reopen to commercial flights on 1st July 2020.

As reported by the PM this morning, the Belize Government was prepared to open the International Airport on July 1st with the requirement that incoming travelers must present a negative PCR test result no later than 72 hours prior to travel.

However, IATA and the major commercial airlines rejected this requirement and said they will not fly to Belize under that condition and will wait until there are rapid tests available. Thus, there can be no official airport opening date provided at this time. As soon as reliable rapid tests are available, we are ready to open to incoming travelers. The PM personally felt that there would be rapid tests available "soon".

The PM said if there was a private charter plane (that could meet the testing requirements) wanted to come, we would allow it but since no major airlines agreed to fly here..... there will be no planes landing. Now, it's all up to the availability of rapid test kits for the opening to occur.

==================

***SOME OF THE NEW RULES PERTAINING TO THE STATE OF EMERGENCY MEASURES TO TAKE EFFECT AT MIDNIGHT, MONDAY JUNE 1ST***

1. Curfew will change only on Friday and Saturdays to 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. all other days will remain 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. as is currently in place.
2. The limitations on the amount of people in a specific location will be now be increased from 10 to 40 persons including churches, provided that there is enough space for the 6 feet social distance requirements.
4. Streetside Taco vendors will be allowed operate.
5. Casinos will be allowed to reopen.
6. Gyms and non-contact sports will now be able to be conducted thus playgrounds will be opened to the public.
7. A plan is to be worked out for the management or conduct of Graduation ceremonies.
8. Boledo and Lottery will now be sold.
9. Sportfishing is allowed.
10. Permission granted to open air restaurants to operate is now extended to all restaurants.
11. The Philip Goldson International Airport cannot be confirmed for opening 1st. of July.

Re: Updated COVID-19 Response Measures [Re: Marty] #542661
05/30/20 04:34 AM
05/30/20 04:34 AM
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Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow’s Statement on Updated COVID-19 Response Measures

Good morning, members of the media. Good morning, members of the public.

My fellow Belizeans,

Welcome to this morning’s press conference, and, forgive me, but I must start this morning on a note of complaint. Today’s press conference is another in what has become a regular, almost weekly series. The objective is always to update the nation in as comprehensive a manner as possible on where we are in the ongoing struggle to keep our country free from the novel Coronavirus. I try, by way of these briefings, to speak to both health sector and economic sector developments. I always come to you armed with material from Cabinet and from the apex National Oversight Committee. My aid in addressing you and answering your questions is the official notes of the deliberations of both bodies. Those notes help me to report accurately to you since, for the sake of transparency, fidelity to the record is essential. I was, therefore, distressed to learn yesterday that someone, not the official minutes keeper, had circulated his or her own version of the NOC discussions and decisions. That was wrong and a breach of confidentiality. Furthermore, the error was compounded by the fact that what was released was, in a number of instances, terribly inaccurate. I express the earnest hope that it won’t happen again.

Turning now to the Ministry of Health’s Coronavirus dashboard, you all know that we continue to be free of any active case. I, therefore, offer the customary, but always heartfelt, thanks to all our essential workers.

As of Wednesday, we had done 1,517 tests. There were five results still pending, with all others being negative except for the 18 you have long since known about. We continue to test on an average of three times per week. The fact that now we don’t test as often as we once did has nothing to do with what that distorted report falsely described as a decision to conserve on supplies. Rather, it is that all the science, according to our Director of Health Services, proves that in our current circumstances testing of asymptomatic people is a low yield exercise. Accordingly, our present test level is entirely satisfactory of World Health Organization standards.

On the economic front you already, I believe, have the press release sent out yesterday updating the status of the Unemployment Relief Program. This shows that 43,726 applications have been approved to date. SSB has processed all those approvals and 94% or 40,927 of them were successfully paid. The rest is so far unpayable because the bank information of the applicants was either not submitted or the information they sent was inaccurate. Regarding the Food Assistance Program, these are the numbers: 46,686 households have been helped and now the on-the-ground assessment has been completed in 38 rural villages in Toledo, Cayo, and Orange Walk. Those people are beginning at this point to be helped.

Concerning what we are expecting from the International Financial Institutions, it is true that we are still in waiting mode. It is not true, though, that, as the inaccurate so-called notes state, no international funding will come in for the month of June. In fact, the first disbursement of the US 6.2 million dollars from the IDB is to arrive right after the bank’s June 3rd signature of the amended loan contract. The other IDB line of US 12 million dollars is scheduled to be approved formally on June 20th; and the processing of the World Bank’s 21 million US dollars is also to be completed in the latter half of next month, of June. There is US 50 million dollars more to be had from the World Bank, but those particular disbursements indeed won’t happen before July.

Now Wednesday’s meeting of the National Oversight Committee did agree with Cabinet on the further easing that is to take place as internally we proceed with the reopening of our economy. In dealing in some detail with the relaxation of the state of emergency measures, I sound the usual caution. Please do not interpret the further lifting of restrictions as a free for all. I get it, that people are stir crazy, but we cannot afford to move too fast. I, therefore, ask again for strict observance of such safety protocols as do remain in place.

The amended S.I. to reflect the changes is being drafted. In fact, I believe the A.G. and the SolGen finished this morning. I was sent a copy but I have not had time to check it. What I tell you, then, is subject to changes, albeit, at the most, slight changes. In any case, that amended S.I. would take effect at 12:01 a.m. this Monday, June 1st. By that I mean that when you wake up Monday morning, the S.I. would be extant and would usher in the following.

The number allowed for gatherings with social distancing will increase from 10 to 40. In particular, our places of worship with the requisite space will be able, physically, to host congregations of that size.

Tacos and other street vendors can get back to business, but will need to comply with certain sanitary protocols. Those protocols are being finalized and will be handed to those who have emerged as the leaders of the street vendor community between today and tomorrow.

The permission to operate already given to open air restaurants will now be extended to all restaurants. This, again, is on condition that the physical distancing and other rules will still apply.

The sale of Boledo, much anticipated at least in some quarters, will restart and casinos will also be allowed to be reopened. Neither smoking nor alcohol consumption is to be allowed in the casinos.

Approval is being given for gyms in accordance with the strict guidelines ratified by the NOC. In accordance with those guidelines, gyms can now reopen.

All non-contact open air sports are to be permitted for practice and exercise purposes, and, in fact, exercise hours are no longer restricted to the 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. time slot. Sport fishing is also allowed.

General curfew hours are being broadened only for Fridays and Saturdays. Thus, on those two days, curfew will be from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. All other days will remain at 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. The children’s curfew stays generally at 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., but minors can move about from 5:00 a.m. up to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 p.m. on weekends if, and only if, they are accompanied by a responsible adult.

As a result of those unofficial, leaked NOC notes, much confusion has arisen surrounding the holding of graduation ceremonies. The true position is this. Both Cabinet and the NOC received a proposal from the Belize High School regarding a particular mode for their particular ceremony. Acceptance of the proposal would have meant agreeing to breach the numbers cap of 10, now 40, on gatherings. Although both Cabinet and the NOC felt that what the Belize High School was proposing could be safely done, there was also a worry that permission to BHS could be seen as preferential treatment. Ultimately, the NOC asked that the Ministry of Education consult with all the principals of our high schools. The Ministry is to find out how the other high schools are planning graduation ceremonies that conform to the social distancing protocols and what the other principals think of the BHS proposal. There is, thus, no effort to impose any one size fits all template on the high schools. This is an information gathering exercise that will help in making a final decision regarding BHS. In fact, just before I set out this morning to come here, I had a message from the Minister of Education, and, if I can recollect correctly what he told me, it is this. All the principals have their individual plans for how they will conduct their graduation exercises, their graduation ceremonies, but they all say they are doing it in a way that will conform to the social distancing requirements. They say, again as I understand it from the Minister, that it is fine then for Belize High School to proceed on exactly that same basis. We will distill this information at Monday’s NOC meeting, but I gather that the BHS principal has already been informed of what the result of the Minister’s consultation with the other school principals is.

With that I conclude my sketch of the new rules, allowing me now to come to that extremely important matter of the reopening of our borders generally and the PGIA in particular. Of course, the Attorney General will tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. take to the “Ask the Experts” program and, in what is his now customary fashion, go through the S.I. line by line for the benefit of the public. Take the final position from him, because I have, as I said, talking to you now, not been able to go through the draft, and so what I am giving you are the highlights, which won’t change. They might be added to, but remember that I content myself with just this sketch of the major points constituting the changes that the S.I. will promote now.

So, this question of the external reopening, I make clear at once that an early loosening of the entry prohibition at our land borders was never on the cards. That is because, in only the last week, the number of COVID-19 cases has surged in the countries surrounding us:

Mexico went up by 25% from 56,000 to 75,000

Guatemala by 80% from 2,200 to 4,000

Honduras by 50% from 3,000 to 4,400

El Salvador from 1,600 to 2,100.

In the case of Mexico, questions have arisen as to whether there is underreporting. That notwithstanding, Mexico is now globally the 17th most infected out of 200 countries and territories.

It is in that context that we agreed that there would likely be a considerable wait before we could unseal our land borders. On the other hand, there has been the most anxious, searching, and intense debate at both NOC and Cabinet over a possible standalone reopening of the PGIA. It is no secret that we have, since around a month ago, been aiming for a July 1st recommencement of operations at our only international airport. Indeed, by majority vote at both the Cabinet and the NOC, the decision was made to confirm that July 1st date, subject to certain conditions being put in place.

It surely is not hard to understand why we so ardently wished for a go at the PGIA. Tourism is our largest job creator and the biggest contributor to GDP and foreign exchange earnings. In 2019, for example, total tourism expenditure in Belize was 502.3 million US dollars. But COVID-19 is decimating the industry. The devastation is such that between January and April of this year, tourist spending in Belize fell by 82 million US dollars over the same period last year. And until the PGIA can reopen, it is only going to get worse.

Now even as we pushed to reopen, we had to bear certain facts well in mind. With regard to international travel prohibitions, the US decision to ban Chinese visitors from as early as January of this year was widely applauded. At its peak though, only 82,000 of 1.3 billion Chinese were infected and Chinese visitors to the US represented just about 3% of the US’s total annual visitors. Yet the US proceeded with its embargo on Chinese travel to America. Currently, the US also bans visitors from Brazil; 320,000 Brazilians are infected of a total population of 210 million, and Brazilians represent just 4% of visitor flows to the US.

In our own case vis-á-vis the US, we had to reflect on the fact that there are 1.8 million Americans infected, a third of all COVID-19 deaths are US, and that country is the source of 75% of our visitors. So, the US in circumstances of a relatively minuscule visitor flow from Brazil and China, nevertheless froze all travel from those two countries. The logic for our initial proscription ban on travel to Belize from the US in the context of their world leading infection rate and their being our 75% source market, is thus clearly irrefutable. That is why our drive to reopen PGIA had to be subject to our doing our absolute best to mitigate the undeniable and serious risk of imported infections coming from any resumed flow of US visitors.

Accordingly, the decisions of the NOC and Cabinet regarding the PGIA were premised on our first putting in place a comprehensive set of protocols to govern reopening. The centerpiece of this was/is to be a testing requirement. Now it is a fact that reliable rapid tests, on which I personally had pinned a lot of hopes, are not currently available. Our only recourse was, thus, to go with the PCR tests that currently both we and the US use, and which are the WHO gold standard. What we decided was that US, and other visitors would be able to come to Belize via the PGIA, on one principal condition. They would need to present upon arrival a negative COVID-19 PCR test result; and they would need to have obtained that negative result no earlier than 72 hours before traveling.

We checked via our Embassy in Washington and our Consulates in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, on the ease or otherwise of getting tests in the US in preparation for travel. It became clear that the processes differed widely from state to state and even among different counties in the same state. Still, the requirement for travelers to test remained a sine qua non for us as we sought to protect our Coronavirus-free record in the midst of any external reopening.

We, therefore, informed, via the Belize Tourism Board, the airlines of this condition that would attach to travel from North America to Belize. They did not object and the information was that they would still be prepared to come. We, therefore, appeared all set to confirm this morning our July 1st PGIA reopening. Alas, what the poet said about the best laid plans of mice and men proved only too true on this occasion.

Yesterday IATA, the International Air Transport Association, sent a message to our Director of Civil Aviation. That message made clear IATA’s disapproval of the Belize travel testing requirement. According to IATA, that could not work now, and Belize should wait on the development of a reliable rapid test that would allow for the airlines themselves to administer a pre-boarding test. After that the dominoes started falling. The carriers changed their tune, and it became clear that they would not fly to Belize if we insisted on travelers coming armed with a negative test result. I repeat, though, that our paramount safety concerns mandate our holding firm on that requirement.

Long story short? I am in consequence of all this today unable to confirm July 1st as a firm reopening date for the PGIA. If IATA holds its position that is seemingly mirrored now by the airlines, we will not be able to reopen until there is mass availability of approved rapid tests. Now, of course, in the meantime, if there are chartered carriers that would want to come to Belize on condition that their passengers would in fact be able to present a negative test result upon arrival, we would reopen for that sort of a purpose. But generally, because of the position now taken by the airlines, there cannot be the hoped-for reopening of the PGIA on July one. Of course, there are already rapid tests on the market but not with the needed degree of specificity and sensitivity. Everything suggests, though, that rapid testing nirvana is imminent. And the moment that happens, we will be good to go. Having not been able to secure July 1st, you will understand that I don’t feel comfortable hazarding a guess, an estimate, as to the actual new date. We, therefore, take it one step at a time with the commitment continuously to update you as the situation unfolds.

I close with one assurance. GOB is working with the DFC on funding tourism sector loans at concessionary rates as a stopgap until the sector can return to strength.

In other words, in this as in all other things we, this country, will come through. Given how well we have done in containing COVID-19, everyone surely knows that this note of hope is not at all misplaced but absolutely and completely justified.

Thank you and I am certainly now prepared to take your questions.

Re: Updated COVID-19 Response Measures [Re: Marty] #542669
05/30/20 05:11 AM
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SOE Regs Relaxed, The Official Breakdown

To spur more local economic activity - government is further relaxing the state of emergency regulations. As we told you last night this includes bringing back boledo, tacos vendors, casinos, and relaxing the curfew, just a bit.

The PM gave the official outline today- starting with an allowance for larger social gatherings:

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"The number allowed for gatherings with social distancing will increase from 10 to 40. In particular, our places of worship with the requisite space will be able, physically, to host congregations of that size."

"Tacos and other street vendors can get back to business, but will need to comply with certain sanitary protocols. Those protocols are being finalized and will be handed to those who have emerged as the leaders of the street vendor community between today and tomorrow."

"The permission to operate already given to open air restaurants will now be extended to all restaurants. This, again, is on condition that the physical distancing and other rules will still apply."

"The sale of Boledo, much anticipated at least in some quarters, will restart and casinos will also be allowed to be reopened. Neither smoking nor alcohol consumption is to be allowed in the casinos."

"Approval is being given for gyms in accordance with the strict guidelines ratified by the NOC. In accordance with those guidelines, gyms can now reopen."

"All non-contact open air sports are to be permitted for practice and exercise purposes, and, in fact, exercise hours are no longer restricted to the 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. time slot. Sport fishing is also allowed."

"General curfew hours are being broadened only for Fridays and Saturdays. Thus, on those two days, curfew will be from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m."

Channel 7


Re: Updated COVID-19 Response Measures [Re: Marty] #542696
05/31/20 05:06 AM
05/31/20 05:06 AM
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Belize State of Emergency restrictions further amended by the GOB

Belize continues to lead in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as it has been free of the disease since May 5th. Having maintained that status for nearly a month, Prime Minister Right Honourable Dean Barrow addressed the nation on Friday, May 29th, and announced the further loosening of measures under the current State of Emergency. Barrow spoke about amendments to the current curfew, approval for street-side vendor sales, the opening of casinos, gymnasiums, restoration of non-contact sporting events in public areas, and increased size of social gatherings. The Prime Minister’s message also included the reinstitution of the weekly Boledo and Sunday lottery sales, the potential reopening of the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport, and the current situation regarding health services and the economic aspect of the country.

Barrow confirmed that certain monies that were to arrive in the country via international financial institutions like the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) and World Bank are still pending. Although there is an apparent delay, Barrow assured that this foreign funding would be available in June. “In fact, the first disbursement of US$6.2 million from the IDB is to arrive right after the bank’s June 3rd signature of the amended loan contract,” said Barrow. Another amount from the IDB, of US$12 million is scheduled to be approved formally on June 20, 2020. According to the Prime Minister, an amount of US$21 million from the World Bank will also be made available in June. In addition, the World Bank is expected to make available an additional US$50 million around July.

PM Barrow made it clear that the opening of the land borders was never on the table, as cases of COVID-19 in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador continue to increase. “We agreed that there would likely be a considerable wait before we could unseal our land borders,” said Barrow. With tourism being the country’s largest job creator and source of foreign exchange earnings, the opening of the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (PGIA) is becoming more and more imperative. According to him, the total tourism expenditure in Belize in 2019 was over half a billion U.S. dollars. “The devastation is such that between January and April of this year, tourist spending in Belize fell by US$82 million over the same period last year. And until the PGIA can reopen, it is only going to get worse,” said Barrow.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

Re: Updated COVID-19 Response Measures [Re: Marty] #542714
06/01/20 07:30 AM
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Effective today, June 1st, Statutory Instrument No. 78 of 2020, the Belize Constitution (Emergency Powers) Regulations, 2020, will come into force.

Statutory Instrument No 78 of 2020 Belize Constitution Emergency Powers Regulations 2020

Re: Updated COVID-19 Response Measures [Re: Marty] #542715
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Commissioner of Police Chester Williams writes about the new Statutory Instrument for Monday, June 1st, 2020.

Williams says “...just to give you a reminder that SI 78 came into force this morning. This SI provides so further relaxation of the SOE measures. Here are some of the activities that are now permissible-

- boledo will now commence;
- Casinos can now open; however no drinking of alcohol nor smoking is allowed inside the casino;
- All Restaurants can now open for dining; however, there must maintain 6ft between each table.
- street food vending can commence;
- Weddings can now have a maximum of 40 persons, inclusive of officiating official and bridegroom;
- Churches can not host up to forth person, providing they practice social distance;
- Funerals can now have a maximum of 40 persons;
- gymnasiums are now allowed to open;
- the curfew hours remains from 8pm to 4:59am from Sunday to Thursday and from 9pm to 4:59am on Fridays and Saturdays;
- volleyball with 3 per side is now allowed; (no mask)
- tennis game is also allowed; (no mask)
- all are still required to wear a mask and maintain social distance of 6ft.
- NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO HOST NO SOCIAL EVENT IN WHICH THEY INVITE PERSONS FROM OUTSIDE THEIR IMMEDIATE HOUSEHOLD;
- PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS ARE STILL CLOSED; and
- NO COMPETITIVE SPORTING ACTIVITY IS ALLOWED.

I know there are still a few businesses that are still not yet allowed to open, I understand your concern and ask that you continue to bear patience. The measures are becoming more relaxed and so your time will come.

I ask all to continue adhering to the SOE measures and let's all do our part to keep the virus out of our country. Have a blessed and productive day.”

Re: Updated COVID-19 Response Measures [Re: Marty] #542726
06/02/20 04:43 AM
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Belize Returning To Normal Life With Latest Rollback

Belizeans were breathing several sighs of relief this morning as several remaining state of emergency regulations were lifted. And this morning when we woke up it was with the knowledge that we were free to go to the gym, grab lunch at our favourite indoor restaurant, and even buy several pieces of our lucky numbers. True enough, in the middle of what was wave one, and what could be wave two Belizeans are getting back to some sense of normalcy. Cherisse Halsall reports.

Over the weekend Attorney General Mike Peyfitte stopped by Ask the Experts clad in his '1 Peyrefitte face mask' to explain the lifting of more state of emergency measures. But as usual, the AG prefaced relaxations with a rebuke.

Micheal Peyrefitte, Attorney General
"We are not yet in a free for all. We are not yet fully open and eventhough we are allowed to do more things, would like to reiterate that not because you could do it, you shouda do it."

But this morning's "could" definitely meant should for gym buffs who were ecstatic to get back on the workout grind.

Jasmine Garcia, Front Desk
"Everybody is excited as you can see and excited to begin gym. We have got some that we are spraying every minute, but every hour I would say to sanitize the place. We have our normal deep cleanings and when you enter we all wear masks and when you workout its optional. We have started to separate the treadmills and ensure that they are 6 feet apart. We also added some treadmills in the other rooms and different equipment we have them space out with all the space that we have."

K'wan Samuels, Fitness Instructor
"We've only been waiting what two and a half months but it feels good to be back. There's no cure for coronavirus, so I'm definitely on board with the preventative measures which would include exercising frequently."

"A little bit of activity every single day definitely helps you to put yourself at less of a risk. It helps to boost your immune system first of all apart from that it just puts you in a better mood."

Another mood booster and an aspect of Belizean life that's been restored are the cheap eats available from Taco vendors. They got the ax early in the lockdown and after nearly two months out of business were happy to be back in action today.

Jose Baeza, Vendor, Baeza's Tacos
"Hopefully it continues like this and the country doesn't get any more of this COVID-19."

Cherisse Halsall:
"So, sanitary measures, has anybody visited you yet to tell you what the sanitary measures are?"

Jose Baeza, Vendor, Baeza's Tacos
"Well we've heard from Peyrefitte that the health inspectors were going to be in all the businesses, but for today, no. I guess there are a lot of tacos vendors and I guess by tomorrow they will visit us. Yes we have all the measures. We have hand sanitizers and hand soap and water, so you can wash your hands and tell everybody to wear their masks and only pick ups and deliveries. This is one of our spots here in southside at the UNO gas station, so customers they can come tomorrow and get their tacos right here and I see a lot of tacos vendors have come out today and I know they are very happy too, because without money it has been a big struggle."

And the struggle has been real for all Belizeans but also making a comeback in today's lifted restrictions is the much missed cultural practice of Boledo. We spoke to one man ready with the post COVID rake.

Cherisse Halsall:
"How does it feel to be able to buy boledo again?"

Mr. Young, Customer, Brad's
"Oh Freedom. I want them to get rid of this mask though. I can't even talk. They just open and this Covid-19 is the hot number for today, so I'm hitting the 19 double up, you gotta get rich today on the 19."

But if Boledo's not your game you can always take your chances with the slot machines, that's right, Casino's are also back but they've had to take much more stringent measures post lockdown as their machines are ripe for the spreading of viruses among their customers many of whom are from vulnerable older portions of the population.

Shamone Bood, Assistant Casino Manager, PRINCESS
"Every so often whenever the customer leave the machine our cleaners go and wipe off the machines and before the casino is open we clean down all the machines and after it is close and in between. We have our 6 feet social distance whenever they enter the casino we have to check their temperature, we have hand sanitizer around the casino as well. So far our customers they are happy to be here."

As life gets back to some semblance of normalcy people are happy to get back to their routines, that means participating in these COVID time no-no's, many of them simple pleasures that enhance quality and enjoyment of life. A vital one being, dining out.

Lee Mark Chang, Owner, Chon Saan Palace
"Our dining room just opened up for the first day in what, two and a half months, We had to do a thorough cleaning of the dining room before it open. We have a sign that says please wait to be seated, with a reservation also of course and when you come we will seat you according to the social distancing guidelines 6 feet apart, so every other table we will have someone if it's necessary."

Cherisse Halsall:
"So what's the fate of the outdoor dining, you keeping it?"

Lee Mark Chang, Owner, Chon Saan Palace
"No, we have our dining room here and as a business we always have to adapt to the times and so outdoor dining was then and today now you could have your nice cool AC and sit down and relax. We have the sanitizers on each table, we also have our park and order service if customers decide to stay in their car and take out, or they could go in the take out to order their food. 5 maximum per time."

Last on that list of regulations are spa services such as massages and waxing deemed too intimate to be considered sanitary until, perhaps, the very end of the pandemic can be celebrated.

Channel 7


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