PM Holds Firm on Vaccination Proof at Restaurants-No Exemption for Tourists
Also by the end of the year, frontline workers will be required to be vaccinated. It is an incoming regulation, according to PM Bricneo, that will no longer give these people the option to present a negative COVID-19 test every two weeks. He also addressed the push back from the tourism sector over the vaccine mandate for restaurants.�
Prime Minister of Belize, John Briceno
"We will have by the end of this year, one of the recommendations are, is that all the frontline workers will have to be vaccinated. This about go and get test and come back, you now have to be vaccinated to go into the work place, to go into the restaurants. As it is right now restaurants are, inside dining are fifty percent but they must be vaccinated."
"I am sure you know the tourism sector is concerned about this issue."
Prime Minister of Belize, John Briceno
"Well, I am sorry about that, but they have to. Well, when you go to the United States and you go to a restaurant, you have to be vaccinated. You have to show your card or else you can't go in. The President from Brazil, they refused his entrance into a restaurant, actually they have a picture of him eating pizza on the street side. So, if the tourist back home in the U.S has to be vaccinated back home to go into a restaurant, why should we make it any different here?"
Restaurant Vaccine Mandate Blindsided Tourism Industry
The Statutory Instrument that requires restaurants to accommodate only vaccinated people who can show their cards has begun to impact hotel restaurants. Restaurants presently can only accommodate fifty percent of their maximum capacity, but with the cancellations that hotels have started to see, President of the Belize Hotel Association, Alina Saldivar says their worry is that if this SI remains in effect, they will begin to suffer serious impacts once again. For context, we repeat the Prime Minister's comments on the matter when he appeared on Channel five's Open Your Eyes on Wednesday, followed by Saldivar's take on what the requirement is doing to tourism. And she says that tourism stakeholders are going to be strict with enforcing mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing during the upcoming high season.
Prime Minister John Briceno
"When you go to the United States and you go to a restaurant, you have to be vaccinated. You have to show your card or else you can't go in. The President from Brazil, they refused his entrance into a restaurant, actually they have a picture of him eating pizza on the street side. So, if the tourist back home in the U.S has to be vaccinated back home to go into a restaurant, why should we make it any different here?"
Alina Saldivar, President, BHA
"My answer to that is it should be different here because here we depend on tourism. The US doesn't depend on tourism as heavily as we do here. We have quite a few reservations from November onwards, especially through March, but then out of left field we were completely blown away when the SI came out saying that restaurants could only serve vaccinated customers. We had no idea that was coming. I can't speak for local restaurants; I don't know how much it is affecting them, but that affected us right away. I don't think it was well-thought out in terms of how much that would affect a tourist that wants to come to this country that has chosen not to be vaccinated. We're not requiring vaccination to enter the country, yet we're saying when you get here it's going to be difficult to find food; it's going to be difficult to eat. It is already affecting us. We have one resort in San Pedro that made the announcement to their future guests and they got six cancellations in a matter of twenty-four hours. They got six cancellations. We have these new airlines coming in November and December and everyone is very excited and hopeful. Unfortunately, some of the cities of those airlines are servicing are cities in the US that have a high anti-vax rate so we probably will be seeing some guests there that are not vaccinated and we – the resorts have a responsibility to let them know because it's going to be chaotic if we don't say anything in favour of the cancellations and then we have them come and learn about that when they're here. That wouldn't be right. So we really hope that this is going to be a regulation that will have an expiration date before we get into the thick of the high season."