In a press release today, Government of Belize announced that Cabinet gave its approval for the reopening of land and sea border points to receive foreign tourists, namely, the Santa Elena Northern Border, Benque Viejo del Carmen Western Border, San Pedro and Punta Gorda borders. The borders will be opened by 31st May for foreign tourists who wish to visit Belize for recreation and vacation purposes only.
You Can Get In, But You Can't Get Out - Cabinet Reopens Borders, Sorta!
Probably the item getting the most buzz from this week's Cabinet briefing is the announcement that land and sea border points will be reopened at the end of the month. But this is only to allow foreign tourists in and not let Belizeans to travel out. The Cabinet brief today also stressed that only tourists who have pre-booked at gold standard certified accommodations will be allowed entry. When Cabinet met earlier this week, they also decided to send a letter of clarification to the joint unions confirming several agreements; namely the five-hour workweek reduction, forbearance period for borrowers up to the end of December, including mortgages. Also, the N.T.U.C.B. may propose a nominee to serve on the board of directors of the National Bank of Belize. The government reminds union members that any public officer continuing to strike beyond May fourteenth will not be paid any salary for the period after that. In other cabinet news, there will also be a restructuring of the core functions of the Belize Bureau of Standards with a Supplies Control Act administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise. And, Cabinet gave its approval for the designation of the remaining national lands within the South Water Caye and Sapodilla Caye marine reserves as mangrove forests reserves.
Full Release: Ministry of tourism clarification of land border opening.
BELIZE LAND BORDERS WILL REOPEN TO FOREIGN TOURISTS ON MAY 31
The Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations (MTDR), along with the Border Management Agency (BMA), and the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) announce the reopening of Belize's land and sea borders to foreign tourists who wish to visit the country for recreation and vacation purposes only.
The points of entry will reopen in a phased approach. and in Phase 1. only tourists who are booked at Gold Standard hotels, and transferred by Gold Standard taxis or tour operators will be permitted to enter. Tourists will be required to present proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Belize; or a rapid antigen test for SARS-CoV2 approved by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) taken within 24 hours prior to arrival in Belize. All tourists, including those who provide proof of full Covid-19 immunization, may be required to submit to testing at their expense, at the discretion of the MOHW. Foreign travellers testing positive for Covid-19 shall be denied entry.
Santa Elena Border and Belize Western Border stations will reopen on Monday, May 31, 2021, and the time of operations at the borders will be from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily, until further notice. The San Pedro and Punta Gorda border points will also reopen in Phase 1 on a date to be announced.
The re-opening of the Ports of Entry will take place under the following phases: Phase 1: Foreign Tourists Only (or travelers with special permission); Phase 2: Foreign Tourists and Visitors of Friends. Family & Relatives; and Phase 3: Full Re-opening.
Under the first phase, the direct transit of travellers from border to border (in-transit passengers) will not be permitted. Entry or exit by Belizeans, diplomats, military personnel, permanent residents, etc. will continue on a restricted basis and still requires official permission from the relevant agencies.
To ensure the safe entry and departure of travellers, a new set of Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) are being implemented at the points of entry that follow the strict health and safety protocols that have been successfully implemented at the Phillip Goldson International Airport, to include health and temperature screening, physical distancing, and sanitizing. There is a mandatory requirement for facemasks to be worn in all public spaces while in Belize, and all foreign nationals must abide by the laws of Belize.
The BMA will be the agency responsible for the coordination and oversight of the SOPs. Its implementation will be the responsibility of all regulatory and management agencies at the respective ports of entry, including the MOHW, Department of Immigration and Nationality, Customs and Excise Department, Belize Agricultural Health Authority, Belize Police Department and the BTB.
The MTDR welcomes the safe reopening of our land borders to international tourists as this represents another important step toward tourism recovery and overall economic recovery.
Borders Reopen to Visitors Only: Belizeans Have to Wait until Phase 3
After fourteen months, Belize's land borders will reopen on May thirty-first.� But much to the disappointment of many, only visitors will be initially allowed to enter the country.� Belizeans will have to wait a while longer until they can cross into neighboring countries.� But with Thursday's cabinet announcement, concerns were raised about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Mexico. And, what will be required of tourists when they arrive at the various borders? New Five's Paul Lopez spoke to C.E.O. at the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, Nicole Solano to get some answers.
Nicole�Solano, C.E.O, Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations
"Cabinet made a decision to open land borders for tourist only, beginning May thirty-first and that is for tourist only. So, it's a phased approach where tourist will come in under specific conditions. It is not open for everybody. It is not open for Belizeans. It is not open for in transit. It is open specifically for tourists who come in under specific conditions.�� Any tourist that has a negative COVID test similar to the airport, they can come in. They have to be able to show a negative PCR test taken within seventy-two hours of arrival, or twenty-four hours of arrival with a rapid antigen test. So if they don't have that they will be able to test on arrival at the land borders. But they will have to be able prove that they are COVID negative to come in. Anybody that tests positive will not be able to enter the country."
Paul Lopez, Reporting
Phase two of the land border reopening will allow for foreign tourist and visitors of friends, family and relatives. Phase three will be a full reopening. But, there is no timeline on how long each of the phases for reopening will take.
"Basically we are looking at what phase one will require. We are working of course with the Ministry of Health, BAHA, there are several agencies involved that we need to work through the situation to make sure that it happens safely and in accordance with the protocol. Opening the land borders is not an easy task. It is not something we are taking lightly at all. It has taken a lot of discussion. We have been trying to do it for a long time and it has been delayed. We are at the point now where we feel we can safely open for tourism, and that will be the first phase. Depending on how that works, we will then have a better indication of how we can move to phase two. If it doesn't work, we also reserve the rights to close the borders down."
Notwithstanding the Government of Belize's efforts to reopen land borders, international news outlets are reporting a steady increase of Covid-19 cases in the state of Quintana Roo Mexico.
"It is a huge concern, and it is definitely something that we have considered with the ministry of health and wellness, because looking at the cases in both Mexico and Guatemala is a major concern. However, we have protocols in place. We know that the number of tourists coming in under those protocols are very low. IF you look at the P.G.I.A., the majority of the people coming in from the airport are coming in from the U.S. The U.S. has a high number of cases. Yet the number of people coming in there that are positive are very low."
Land border tourism accounted for up to fourteen percent of the tourism market back in 2019. Belize's land borders were closed in March of 2020. Today, C.E.O. Solano said the Government of Belize is more confident that land borders can be reopened in a safe manner.
"We will have the people who feel that it is necessary for tourism and economic recovery, and we will have the people who feel we need to shut down because we want to eliminate any possible risk of having anybody enter with COVID.� It is completely understandable, both sides. So what we have tried to do is have a balance approach and look very carefully at how we can have a responsible and very safe opening for tourism because our stakeholders need it. Economic recovery is of grave concern right now and it is something we need to focus on in a safe manner with all of the parities and agencies involved. We feel we can do it. We feel we have given it a considerable amount of attention."
The Government of Belize announces that the Western Border (Benque Viejo Del Carmen) and Northern Border (Santa Elena) will be open to Foreign Tourists ONLY, on May 31, 2021, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Kindly note the following requirements:
Only Foreign Tourists - Only Foreign Tourists entering Belize for Vacation and Recreational Purposes for more than one day shall be eligible for entry.
Gold Standard Accommodation - Foreign Tourists must show proof of booking at a Belize Tourism Board Gold Standard Certified Hotel or Accommodation.
Gold Standard Transport - Foreign Tourists must be transported from the Border Facilities into Belize by a certified Gold Standard transport operator.
Testing Requirements: - Foreign Travellers entering Belize shall be required to present proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival or any other test for SARS-CoV2 approved by the Ministry of Health & Wellness taken within 24 hours prior to arrival in Belize.
- All Foreign Travellers with no previous test shall be subject to Rapid Tests on arrival by the Ministry of Health and Wellness of Belize.
NOTICE- BELIZE REOPENS BORDERS TO FOREIGN TOURISTS
The Government of Belize announces that the Western Border (Benque Viejo Del Carmen) and Northern Border (Santa Elena) will be open to Foreign Tourists ONLY, effective May 31, 2021. Kindly note the following requirements:
Only Foreign Tourists
- Only Foreign Tourists entering Belize for Vacation and Recreational Purposes shall be eligible for entry.
Gold Standard Accommodation
- Foreign Tourists must show proof of booking for at least three nights at a Belize Tourism Board Gold Standard Certified Hotel or Accommodation.
Gold Standard Transport
- Foreign Tourists must be transported from the Border Facilities into Belize by a certified Gold Standard transport operator.
- Foreign Travellers entering Belize shall be required to present proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival or any other test for SARS-CoV2 approved by the Ministry of Health & Wellness taken within 24 hours prior to arrival in Belize.
- All Foreign Travellers with no previous test shall be subject to Rapid Tests, at their expense, on arrival by the Ministry of Health and Wellness of Belize.
- Kindly note that the Ministry of Health & Wellness of Belize reserves the right to randomly test any person entering Belize.
- Any person, upon arrival, presenting flu-like symptoms will be administered a Rapid Test by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, at their own expense.
The Western Border and the Northern Border shall be open to foreign tourists from: Monday - Friday 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM | Saturday and Sunday 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM