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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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A recent spike in the number of COVID-19 infections, four hundred and three active cases reported on Wednesday, continues to raise serious concerns for the Ministry of Health and Wellness.� While all efforts are being made to vaccinate as many Belizeans, there is a group that is against getting the shots.� Well, there is also a segment of the population that is against wearing masks.� Earlier this week, it was reported that two elderly persons from Spanish Lookout had succumbed to the illness.� That Mennonite community, it turns out, has not been adhering to the COVID protocols which include the wearing of face masks in places where business is being conducted.� A trip to Spanish Lookout on Wednesday was a shocker for Commissioner of Police Chester Williams who saw for himself that the regulations were completely being disregarded.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

"I went to Spanish Lookout yesterday and I visited one store and I was really and truly pissed because, like you rightly said, no one in the store was wearing a mask and I got after them.� I don't know how they never called the talk shows and reported me because I went off and right away I got on the phone with the O.C. in San Ignacio and I told him to ensure that patrols are done in Spanish Lookout and to take along three ticket books because I am sure that if they do that they would be able to exhaust those ticket books.� People in Spanish Lookout need to understand that they are part of Belize and they are subject to the laws of this country and so, just like how people in the other parts of this country are adherent to the regulations and when they are not they are penalized, the same should be done in Spanish Lookout."


"How is the Home Affairs Ministry dealing with the enforcement of mask wearing in the Mennonite communities because we've heard that they haven't been wearing any masks?"

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs

"It's actually an issue that came out on our national tour when we visited San Ignacio and Santa Elena, the San Ignacio formation, because a lot of the officers had that concern that we were not to enforce in Spanish Lookout and we said absolutely not.� Spanish Lookout is a part of our country and they serve Belizeans from all across the country every day, on a daily basis.� And so, they have a responsibility not just to protect themselves but to protect those individuals who come there for commerce each day.� And so the police department, and those in particular at the San Ignacio formation, have that directive that they are to enforce the regulations in Spanish Lookout and other Mennonite communities across Belize."

Channel 5

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392
Marty Offline OP
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Health Team Had To Call The Cops In Defiant Spanish Lookout

Authorities are trying to police defiant residents of Spanish Lookout in the Cayo District.

As we told you, this Mennonite community has developed strong anti-vaxxer, anti-testing, and anti-mask-wearing sentiments. Due to the 2 recent deaths of elderly residents - and reports of 4 more infected - all coming out of one nursing home, the police have decided to crack down - while health steps up its vaccination and testing drives.

We've seen this message which was circulating among community members earlier this week. It informs residents that the Ministry of Health has offered to go there for free tests and vaccinations.

The sender says, quote, "They were very clear that it is fully voluntary and no one is coerced to take either We feel that it is in our best interest to allow them to offer these services to our residence, as well as the neighboring villagers. Therefore, we have granted them permission" End quote.

But reports reaching 7News are that not all of the Spanish Lookout residents agreed. The Ministry team on the ground today reportedly had to call for police back-up because they were threatened while they were offering vaccines and COVID tests.

The press asked the Health Minister about the dilemma of trying to look after a hesitant community's public health:

Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness
"You will know that two of the deaths we had reported earlier this week actually arose out of that community and we do have some concern. The team did go out there this morning and they went there to do vaccination. This was done after a brief meeting was held between a personnel from the Ministry of Health and some of the leaders of that community yesterday and as a consequence of that the team did go in this morning to conduct some vaccination there. I am still waiting to get a number from them to determine from them exactly how much vaccinations were carried out."

"In terms of what the commissioner said, we live in one nation and we expect that the police will enforce the laws throughout our country in a very even way."

"But, do you accept that this has not been happening for quite a while. I mean Belizeans go into those areas to purchase and they've been reporting that these people are not wearing masks."

Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness
"Clearly, that has been happening and I can tell you that the conversations with the police force have been ongoing and we expect that that situation will be remedied by the police in short order."

"We spoke to one of the community leaders in Spanish Lookout who is saying that they understand that Spanish Lookout is a part of Belize, but they don't understand why the government cannot leave them and use them even as a testing community to see that they don't need the vaccine and that basically they are faring off well. They say that they have reopen schools, they have reopened their churches, they have not been operating with masks and yet all they have reported in their community are two deaths of two elderly persons over 80 years old."

Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness
"As a government we have a duty to protect this entire nation and we cannot allow anyone to fall outside of the established regulations, outside of the established public health measures. I can tell you that from a ministry's point of view even one death is too many and so the fact that they have had, to my mind, goes against everything that they may have said to you."

We are informed that during a police patrol of Spanish Lookout today, 15 persons were issued tickets for face mask violations.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392
Marty Offline OP
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Spanish Lookout Businesses Still not Adhering to Mask Mandate

On Thursday, the Commissioner of Police lamented the number of communities he has visited recently where people are flouting mask regulations and police are looking the other way. He mentioned Placencia, Hopkins and Seine Bight, but he also cited Spanish Lookout. Today, News Five did its own check-in to see if masks are being worn in this predominantly Mennonite community. Paul Lopez attempted to ask community leaders for their views, but he did not have much luck.� He also did not see any police trying to enforce the national mask mandate.

Paul Lopez

"We have observed business establishments accommodating costumers not wearing mask. In some of those businesses, we have also observed employees not adhering to the masks mandate."

Section four of the Public Health Prevention Regulations stipulations 2020 stipulates that every person shall wear a face mask or other face and nose and mouth covering at all times. The Spanish Lookout community's workforce numbers up to four thousand. We learnt that, however, that in many cases, masks are not mandated for employees or customers.

Paul Lopez

"It appears as if the mask mandate is not a thing in the Spanish Lookout community. In fact it would seem to outsiders that Spanish Lookout is a small country of its own."

While no one would comment on camera, we were told that some business people here believe masks decrease the productivity of their employees, many of whom are assigned to laborious duties. They are also aware that the community has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks for its lack of adherence to the national mask mandate.

Paul Lopez

"We sought to get an on record interview from community leaders today. We can say that we sat down in a meeting with one leader for about half hour today. At the end of that meeting we were told that the leaders are not prepared to go on record to make a comment at this time."

The Minister of Health has reportedly held meetings with members of the community. Over the course of the last two weeks Police have reportedly issued a number of tickets for these violations. Yet, the issue goes unabated.

Paul Lopez

"The Commissioner of Police recently said that police presence would increase in this community. But, on the contrary, we have been here for just over two hours and not seen a police mobile in sight. Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez."

Channel 5

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