The nation stood still, last night as PM Briceno announced yet another
set of pandemic public health measures.
They included a 7:00 curfew and two no-move Sundays on September 26th
and October 3rd but there was a reprieve for restaurants and hotels in
the tourist hotspots of San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Hopkins, and
Placencia. But while those establishments and their communities
breathed a sigh of relief many in San Ignacio were not happy.
They told Cherisse Halsall about it earlier today.
I'm here in San Ignacio, Cayo where hotels, restaurants, and Tour operators
say "they vex."
Vex because when the PM granted exemptions to tourist hubs they found
themselves off the list.
Now this emerging destination will have to struggle to make it through the
new regs with that 7'o clock curfew and those lock down Sundays.
And, restrictions will hit hard at downtown eatery Ko'Ox-oh-Hanah, a
tourist hot spot known for its burgers. Shift Manager Virgilia Chiac says
restrictions are robbing her employees of their livelihoods.
Virgilia Chiac - Waitress/Shift manager
"It was a slap in the face because we are a tourist destination here in
San Ignacio and we're all part of this together and we should all face
it together no exceptions should have been made. It affects us
tremendously because with curfew in place and takeout only for
restaurants, it's a tremendous loss, we employed about 30 to 40
employees both the meat shop and the restaurant and by takeout only,
reduces us to 30% so lots of us are single parents, the only bread
winners for the home, so of all the districts I think Cayo has most of
the tourists coming in through our Guatemalan borders and I think the
government should consider San Ignacio."
And up in the Hills we spoke to reservation manager Gerald Woolers who says
that while it's going to be difficult moving forward he still supports the
Gerald Wollers - Reservation Manager, Cahal Pech Resort
"I was a bit angry about it but in a way I understand the PM's
perspective regarding why to leave the islands and coast them open,
that's where a lot of tourist are located right now, Cayo is slowing
down with tourists but in a way we also have tourists and we have to
take care of our guests, so I was a bit angry but it might affect us in
a way. That income won't be coming in and take-out, you don't get that
much financing in terms of take-out, so I would drastically affect
us.Working around the curfew hours and working along with our guests
and making them comfortable at our hotel on the no movement day."
And that will be difficult because Sunday activities in Cayo once meant
strolls down bustling Burns avenue, Jungle Treks, or expeditions to the ATM
But with the new regs all that's left for the adventurous traveler is
lounging by the pool.
We tried to speak with the managers of Maya walk tours but were told that
due to the new regs they were busy restructuring tour dates. Their neighbor
was closed today.
But it's not all doom and gloom for Cayo's tourist industry Gerald Wollers
says since last night there have been some revisions to the regs.
"Since the revised by the BTB was issued this morning it allows hotels
and restaurants to be able to be using the curfew until 9:00pm as long
as you are an essential worker for hotels and resorts, right."
And while those revisions will allow for basic operations they aren't a
cure-all for ailing tourism in the west. But what is?
"All I have to say is get vaccinated that's where we could get out of
this loop, it does help in a way to get vaccinated and just get through
One factor that may lead to some peace over the next two weeks is the super early 7:00 pm curfew. It started 15 minutes ago and will create a whole new enforcement regime for police.
But, they will have to be flexible - especially with tourist hotels in Cayo and Belize Districts - that don't have a special curfew exemption.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police "When it comes to resorts outside of the areas that have curfew at 9. For example resorts in Cayo District, resorts in Belize and these sorts of things, that those resorts that have a restaurant, the restaurant will be allowed to open beyond 7pm so that they can cater for their guests. The workers from those resorts will be allowed to go home after having reported off work, unimpeded by the police, so long as they can show that they are leaving work and are going home. That will help those hoteliers in the other areas that curfew kicks in at 7pm to be able to stay open little longer to cater to their guests."