Ambergris Caye businesses and associations are partnering to address our government to change the curfew from 8pm to 10pm. We would also like the name to be change as tourist sees the word curfew negatively. Currently the Ambergris Caye Food and Beverage Association, the San Pedro Tour Operators Association and the San Pedro Tourist Guide Association have taken to spearhead the formation of a common constructive front. If you would like to support us please click the link below.
Indefinite SI hurting tourism business on Ambergris Caye
Many concerned stakeholders shared their frustration about the current SI and are asking government officials to investigate this matter. According to them, the new curfew, 6PM to 5AM for minors and 8PM to 5AM for adults, discourages tourism in San Pedro. The businesses most feeling the pinch are restaurants. These establishments need to start closing by 7:30PM or earlier to meet the 8PM curfew. Some proprietors state that it affects their sales as many customers, mainly tourists, do not dine early. At times when there are customers, they must be reminded that of the cut-off time and that by 7:30PM, they need to leave the restaurant. A stakeholder told The San Pedro Sun that the curfew is triggering cancellations. Without an expiration date of the current SI, any potential future tourism business is in limbo.
Smaller businesses such as food vendors are also appealing for extending the curfew from 8PM to 10PM. A group of food vendors at Central Park were removed because they were operating on public property, which is against the SI. They shared that since sales have plummeted and their peak business time is usually between 6PM and 9PM. “The area where we are is very small, people do not notice us, and we are hurting,” one of the vendors said. They are all operating underneath a private building next to the park, with very little space between them. “All we are asking from the government officials is to let us work,” another vendor said. “We are not asking them for money or anything like that; all we want is better regulations that will allow us to work. We have bills to pay, and this is our only source of income.” They want to return to their areas at the park, where business was better.
Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun
Re: Tourism Sector Asks for Curfew Change
#547613 01/20/2105:47 AM01/20/2105:47 AM
The curfew that was enacted back in November is still ongoing, its end, indeterminate. That's what the UDP pointed out in their press release issued on Friday. They claimed that the curfew is arguably unconstitutional and also added that it is inconsiderate of business owners and workers who normally operate outside of curfew hours. They are now calling on the government to revisit the protocols in place, but they are not the only ones. Some in the public are also calling for, at the very least, some fixed end date to the curfew.
While everyone is undoubtedly affected, those in San Pedro who rely mostly on tourism's service industry to put food on their table are on edge. Their businesses cannot operate when the few tourists who come into the country cannot even eat at a restaurant with their children at night. As such, the Minister of Health, Michel Chebat, along with the Area Rep, Andre Perez, will be on Reef Radio Wednesday morning addressing the concerns of a weary public.
And as it relates to the actual protocols, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, Kareem Musa, wrote in a Facebook comment, quote, "We are currently reviewing the protocols and the new measures would likely come into effect towards the end of the month." End quote.
The curfew - like it or loathe it - in the past month it has become a part of the fabric and rhythm of daily life: 8:00 pm to 5:00 am - you'd better be locked up inside or you could end up locked up in jail. Today the Prime Minister said it has to go a little more:
We also asked Minister Kareem Musa about the curfew, since over the weekend he indicated via Facebook that there will be some changes to the SI currently in place. He said that while this is true, it does not mean that the curfew will be lifted - instead, it will simply be adjusted. He clarified some misunderstandings about the SI and said that next month, Belize will see the new changes.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs & New Growth Industries "I know that there is a huge misconception out there that perhaps the SI had an expiration date when in fact it did not but what I can assure the public is that the Ministry of Health and its taskforce has been reviewing the regulations and towards the ending of the month which is next week, starting on February 1 we will see an adjustment in these regulations. That might not necessarily mean a lifting of the curfew but maybe an adjustment of the curfew. I think that is the number 1 concern out there particularly for the restaurant owners, they would want to see an adjustment made because they find that 8 o'clock is too early in order to serve their customers, and so we are looking at that, the ministry of Health and the taskforce which is made up of medical professionals that have been guiding the ministry have been looking at these things. As you know, last month, in December, the dialogue that was happening in the public is the contemplation of a complete lockdown so imagine that we are here today, a lot of people are here today, clamoring for us to open up back because the numbers have been going down and so I just want to tart from that position, to say that we have come a long way but we are still very much in the middle of the woods. This pandemic is not going away, this is the year of the vaccine and so we as the public, we have to make the very selfless decision to consider frontline workers, to consider doctor, some of whom have passed away, to consider police officers who have passed away, to consider even a member of the House of Representatives who have passed away. So while it is that I hear the anxiety and the build up and the clamor now because our numbers have been going down for us to reopen, we have to consider and we have to give ourselves a pat on the back for coming this far, that we were able to make to through December, that we were able to make it through New Year's without a huge spike."
Musa also clarified statements made by the UDP in a press release issued last week. They claimed that an SI without a definite end or a state of emergency is unconstitutional - but the minister says check again.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs & New Growth Industries "I know that the UDP has issued a call, a press release, in which they condemn these regulations, this SI, and refer to it as being unconstitutional. I don't where they're getting their legal advice but clearly it appears the opposition UDP is in a very discombobulated state that they're now grabbing at political straws at a time when the country needs us to be very united in this effort to fight this pandemic, to fight coronavirus. And so they're attacking this even though they're also the ones who had imposed curfews as well. But it is in my opinion, they grabbed at straws for cheap political mileage and it is going to be to their own demise because people are appreciating the results that we are getting. The results are showing, yesterday I believe only 23 cases out of some 257 tests. That is a major turnaround from where we were in December, actually contemplating a lockdown. And so, again, I don't know who is giving them legal advice and saying that this is unconstitutional, but they only need to turn to their public health act, open their public health act, look at section 83 1e I believe which authorizes the DHS from time to time to present regulations to pass SI's such as the one we passed in December for the prevention of the spread of infectious diseases. So I don't know why they're now coming and saying this is unconstitutional, this is a completely untenable position that they are taking."
"If you recall when the previous government was imposing this state of emergency, I believe they were using the quarantine act, it was a time when they were trying to stop crime as well, crime was out of control, and they were trying to do a dual purpose capture of the pandemic and the out of control crime situation and if you recall they had arrested over 100 individuals from the southside of Belize City under the SOE but the public health act that I am referring to makes absolutely no mention of there having to be a SOE in order for the DHS to implement and to present their regulations that are, like I said, in the best interest of the health of our nation."
But as much as people may disagree with the curfew, according to the minister, it's working. He said that cases have been on a decrease and the proof is in the numbers.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs & New Growth Industries "In terms of the pandemic, clearly we have seen the results of the curfew, we were able to contain what could have possibly been a major super spreader, I am told that some people still had small parties for New Year's and that is unfortunate but at the same time when you look at the results here in the middle of January to where we were in the middle of December and we were able to contain the spread, to put a brakes on the spread, the curfew has certainly yielded excellent results and so when we look at that and then you look at crime as well, I think under the last administration like I said the SOE combined with the curfew they were attributing the reduction in crime at the end of the year to those things and I will not deny that, that there is a correlation between crime as well as the pandemic when it comes to the curfew that is in place. So while there are results that can be attributed to crime, let me make it very clear that the curfew that is in place is not to contain crime, it is actually to prevent the spread of COVID."
The current curfew begins at 8pm and ends at 5am. It has been a major obstacle, especially for the tourism sector, since tourists must also abide by the SI.
And when he spoke yesterday Home Affairs Minister Musa said that while his government's indefinite curfew will be adjusted, it will not be lifted. In the eyes of the government, it is yielding favourable results in terms of lower COVID numbers. He also claimed that the PUP were within the law to impose an indefinite curfew, even citing the specific section in the public health act that allows them to do so.
Well, today former Attorney General, Senator Michael Peyrefitte read aloud that very section and said it's the PUP's legal advisor that needs to recheck the law.
Michael Peyrefitte - Chairman, UDP "The UDP had made it very clear that is was arguably unconstitutional to have a curfew without a state of emergency being declared and that even if you insist on having a curfew it really doesn't make much practical sense to have a curfew with no end in sight but we take the position and the first limb of that discussion is actually the part that not even the most important part but the minister of home affairs made sure that he didn't know who were getting our legal advice from. Well I don't know which section of the law he's reading because he says under the section 83 of the public health act that somehow, somebody can issue a curfew under there, we don't necessarily declare a state of emergency. Now under section 83 it says that the director of health services may make regulations for the disinfection of houses or parks thereof in which any person is suffering from or has recovered from as died of any infectious disease and for the destruction and disinfection of articles likely to retain infection from such cases. B for the manner of dealing discharges and other ejections from patients suffering from infectious diseases for the safe and speedy internment of the dead in cemeteries as may be set a part for those with disease or from house to house visitation for guarding against the spread of the disease by notice and such other means he or she shall see exceeding and that's the extent of section 83. I don't see which part of this section would give you the right to impose a curfew. Section 10 of the constitution is very clear, people have a right to free movement, section 18 of the constitution is also very clear, that the governor general can declare a state of emergency and restrict that movement and it is usually under that section that you impose the curfew, to say look, we are going to restrict your rights under one section on of the constitution at least let us state that it is for a great reason and we set a curfew in place to make sure that we can manage whatever we need to manage for the purposed of preventing the spread of this disease. When you have a curfew without an end date, it tells us, it should tell us, that there is no plan. Normally when you do a have a plan or you don't know what you're doing or you're stumbling out of the blocks, you just shut everything down for no reason and then you decide when you will come out with some SI at the end of this month to determine when curfew will end, to me is a sign that they don't know that they are doing and they are feeling their way in the dark."
According to Minister Musa, Belizeans can anticipate changes to the current SI on February 1.
Last week, we told you about some of the complaints against the countrywide curfew, which the Briceno Administration implemented on December 18th. That's when the COVID-19 second wave was cresting countrywide - and the numbers of deaths was soaring.
Since then, the numbers have been trending down, but the Government has not given any indication about a possible end-date for this curfew. The UDP has argued strongly that the indefinite curfew is unconstitutional, and that it is an undue economic hardship upon business owners and workers in the service sector.
Government officials have heard those complaints and amendments are being considered for the end of the month. This evening, the press tried to get the Minister of Health and Wellness to discuss what those changes could possibly look like, but he wasn't prepared to get into details just yet:
Reporter "Cam you talk to us about what are some of the changes that we can expect?"
Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness "I am not going to really speak about that right now, but I can tell you that we have been listening to the public. We know what the needs out there, but at the same time from the ministry of health and wellness point of view we have an obligation to safeguard our citizens and so we are looking at some changes for the 1st of February, but I cannot yet say what they are."
Reporter "Is it in any way loosening restrictions?"
Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness "If I were to say that then I would tell you what they are."