Last night we told you that Belize's land borders would re-open in early 2022. It's the kind of news that prompted a collective sigh of relief among those starved for social interaction and at least regional travel.
And this long-awaited border reopening that's expected to improve the flow of commerce and reunite families could be a reality in as soon as 6 weeks, that is if the COVID numbers on both sides of the borders remain in check.
Oscar Arnold, Belize's Ambassador to Mexico appeared via Zoom today on Sunup on 7 and he told our hosts what we can all expect in January.
Oscar Arnold, Ambassador to Mexico
"It's important, because it increases the commercial traffic. We know that a lot of Belizeans travel to Guatemala City, to Merida and now to Cancun for medical treatment and I think that there's been a bottleneck there for one reason or the other, so that is another important factor. We also have many Belizeans studying in different parts of Mexico and so those students will be able to travel a little bit more freely and maybe their families will be able to see them. So really from my point of view, the embassy and the mission here in Mexico City provided weekly updated reports on the covid situation on the border towns, in the border provinces of Mexico and as well as Mexico City. For a sustain period now, we've seen a downward trend, but we do have to keep in mind that Mexico saw a total of 3.8 million covid cases with around 292,000 total deaths related to covid."
"There are many factors that involved spiking for example, Mexico never did close their international airport, they didn't close their land borders, but they have resources, they do have medical facilities that are well prepared for this type of thing, even though they were stretched to the limits, so there are many factors. Opening the border could possibly be one of them, but what is the other alternative? do we continue for another year of having the borders closed and having some livelihoods and having the inconvenience to some people. That's a question for the authorities."
"From my position I provide the updated and official information comes out the health ministry here in Mexico City and for the 32 states that they have to provide as much information as I can to the minister of health, the prime minister, the cabinet for them to make an informed decision. Is it a right time, is it not the right time? that will be up to debate regardless. But I do believe it's a good move on the government to give themselves some time, a buffer to still continue to monitor cases. I believe that the prime minister has been very cautious and he is on almost every interview that I have seen, he was very optimistic, but also optimistically cautious that you know what the situation can change at any time, we continue to monitor, we continue to look at the cases, that if there is a rise then they have to look at it at that situation."
"I believe that for now, the cases in the border towns in Mexico in Chetumal have been on the downward trend and if there is any time to do so or to consider to do so it's now. The government still has another 6 weeks, another month and a half or maybe 5 weeks to look at the progress that's being made. Another factor to take into consideration for the border opening was the vaccination rate on both sides of the border, Belize and Mexico, because the numbers have shown that does help to mitigate the seriousness of the illness. A few people lamentably have passed, but again with underlying condition and other factors that have contributed to that. So the question really is are we ready? are we discipline as a people to continue to social distance, to continue to wear our mask properly, to continue to sanitize, because those also have a huge impact on how the virus is transmitted or if its transmitted."