Pre Christmas Lockdown?
Will government lockdown the country for Christmas? That's been the very persistent rumour since last night - but, the question tonight is - does the young Briceno administration have the iron will to enact such a measure and face the backlash at the economically busiest time of year?
It would be like shutting down the economic engine at close to full RPM's - and many say that with nearly five thousand active cases and over 200 dead - it's not an option but a necessity.
But, others say - accurately - that if we have another lockdown they will simply starve.
A tough, tough call - and which way will Belmopan go? Today the Minister of Tourism Anthony Mahler - himself recently recovered from COVID - wouldn't commit to much - only saying that it's under consideration:
Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism
"Like I said we will have a press conference on Friday and, but I will listen to the experts, and if a lockdown is required then from a health standpoint yes. It is going to have some deleterious effects on the economy and because we're already 9, 10 months into COVID."
"I saw a report the other day that China is already operating at 90% of where they used to be but that 10% that has been gone has been so crippling for many small and medium enterprises. So the reality of Belize that we're operating at about 10 to 15% of where we were last year. And so we have 85-90% that needs to come back for us to be where we were and so it is crucial there a lot of businesses, there are a lot of people out of work there are a lot of business's on the brink of shutting their doors and so it is a crucial time we have to look at the situation as a whole, we have to look at the health issues and we have to look at the economic issues, and so we have to be a responsible government but if the health professionals with data tell us that there needs to be a lockdown then we will consider it as a government."
The acting DHS says that there will be a press conference on Friday when she will also answer questions about a timeline for the availability of COVID 19 vaccines.
An article published online at a site called CentralAmerica.com has some interesting conclusions on the possible Belize timeline for the vaccine.
While not exactly the New York times, CentralAmerica.com says Belize will likely access vaccines through the COVAX program. .
Would Tourism Minister Support a Nationwide Lockdown?
There has been widespread speculation that strict measures will be imposed in the days ahead to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus in Belize. While that has not been confirmed, we do know that the Briceño administration has postponed Friday’s planned Sitting of the House of Representatives and that a press conference will instead be held on that day on the COVID-19 strategy going forward. Earlier today, we were with the Minister of Tourism and asked him about the call for a nationwide lockdown by C.E.O. Kennedy Carrillo of the Ministry of Blue Economy. On her social media page over the weekend, Carrillo posted that with the spike in COVID-19 numbers and related deaths, there is a need to stop the spread of the virus. But a lockdown is a tough decision to make given the already fragile economic state of the country in the wake of the previous lockdown earlier this year. Minister Anthony Mahler says that, with advice from health experts, the government will make a decision whether or not to impose a nationwide lockdown.
Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism
“We will have a press conference on Friday, but I will listen to the experts. If a lockdown is required then, from a health standpoint, yes it is going to have some chaos effects on the economy because we are already nine ten months into COVID-19. I saw a report the other day that china is already operating at ninety percent of where they used to be, but that ten percent that has been gone has been so crippling for many small and medium enterprises and so the reality here in Belize that we are operating at about ten to fifteen percent of where we were last year. So you have eighty-five ninety percent that needs to come back for us to be where we were. And so it is crucial; there are a lot of businesses, a lot of people out of work, a lotta businesses at the brink of shutting their doors. And so it is a crucial time. We have to look at situation as a whole. We have to look at the health issues and we have to look at the economic issues. And so we have to be a responsible government. But if the health professionals, with data, tell us that there needs to do a lockdown then we will consider it as a government.”