The Belize government says it will officially reopen its borders on August 15, nearly six months after it shut down the country in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) after the health authorities introduced a raft of health and safety procedures to be implemented in the weeks leading up to the reopening of the airport and hotels.
He defended the decision to reopen the international airport despite fears that there has been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in cities where Belize’s international flights originate.
“After the most careful consideration, after the most searching examination, after the most intense debate we are able now to announce a firm reopening date for the PGIA, the Philip Goldson International Airport. That date, ladies and gentlemen, is August 15th, 2020.
“I want to repeat that the decision has not been an easy one. In our region, cases of the novel coronavirus continue to surge. In the US, our greatest source market for tourism, the number of states experiencing substantial jumps in the rates of infections is alarming,” Barrow said.
He said an initial planned date for the reopening of the PGIA had been set for August first. But concerns pertaining to the timeline, in respect of testing and all protocols, prompted the prime minister to postpone for an additional two weeks.
He maintains that the country is ready to welcoming visitors to Belize and that the next five and half weeks are sufficient to retrofit the airport according to the new procedures.
Meanwhile, visitors who test positive upon arrival, will undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine and that that bill will be covered by the tourist.
The Director of Tourism, Karen Bevans, says a negative test, will not exempt a visitor from random PCR testing.
“Passengers who test positive using the rapid test must immediately enter quarantine for a minimum of fourteen days at the passenger’s expense. Passengers with a negative result from the rapid test will be allowed entry but can also be randomly selected and swabbed for a COVID PCR test, depending on the results of their health screening or the symptoms of illness displayed,” she said.