Prime Minister John Briceno says that his Government has agreed to not enforce the vaccination requirement for Churches in Belize as is stated in Statutory Instrument 119. The Prime Minister informed News Five today via text message that while the Government agrees with the Churches on the points they have put forth on the matter of having to furnish a vaccination card to attend mass, Churches do have to adhere to the other COVID restrictions stipulated in SI 119. The decision follows a throng of points brought forth by the various Churches, including the National Evangelical Association of Belize, NEAB, during a meeting with the PM. NEAB had put up strong objections to the portion of the SI that require church members to show their vaccination cards at the church door. NEAB’s Pastor Lance Lewis told News Five today that there was some confusion that needed clarification and that came late last week.

Pastor Lance Lewis, Vice President, NEAB (via Zoom)

“We at no time had any discussion about having to be vaccinated to go to Church. The discussion was about they’re allowing Church to open at fifty percent, and you’re supposed to wear your masks, you’re supposed to do your distancing, fifty percent of the capacity of the building, wash your hands – all those social (distancing) and all those protocols were there. He then said that whereas in the past, in the case of the buses they went after the people, they now go after the people in charge. The same thing would apply to the churches. They will come after the pastors. We had no problem with that. Not much questions came until the Prime Minister came on two different stations – I think one was your station – the other one was another station, and he said the Churches agree at one of the forums with one of the media houses, he said – I don’t think he said the same thing for both – but he said the Churches have agreed to go back to church at the fifty percent, and also the wearing of masks, and then also vaccination. So people heard that and people said, “what is happening here?” We can’t discriminate. We can’t tell people not to come to church because they’re not vaccinated. So we decided to let’s meet together and let’s discuss it because we need to send a message to the Prime Minister. So we looked at it, we sent a letter to him saying that at no time did we agree that only vaccinated persons would come. I accept the fact that vaccinated persons are better protected than unvaccinated, and most of us are vaccinated. We’re not anti-vaxers. There are some people who just don’t like to be vaccinated for whatever reason.”

Pastor Lewis said that some of the Evangelical Churches have already begun to hold mass at fifty percent capacity and with strict adherence to the other safety regulations.

Channel 5