Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Belize close borders from April 5. Nightly 2000-0459 curfew and nonessential business closures remain in place.

This alert affects Belize

This alert began 06 Apr 2020 17:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least April 30
  • Impact: Flight cancellations, internal movement restrictions, transport and business disruptions

Summary
Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced the complete closure of all borders and ports of entry, including via Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE), through at least April 30. While nonresident foreigners were previously barred from entry to halt the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the new regulation prohibits even Belizeans from entry; exceptions to the rule will only be made for medical emergencies.

The policy was formulated under the powers granted to Prime Minister Dean Barrow by the declaration of a state of emergency from April 1-30. Barrow previously announced the imposition of a nightly 2000-0459 curfew for the duration of the state of emergency. During curfew hours, only employees at companies and government agencies that provide essential services are permitted to be in public.

Additionally, during hours outside of the curfew, people may only be in public in order to purchase essential goods, receive medical attention, care for the sick or elderly, or work in an essential capacity. Nonessential businesses and services are suspended. Supermarkets, grocery stores, banks, and credit unions remain open except during curfew hours. The law allows police and military personnel to stop and question all persons in public to ensure that they are acting in compliance with the order. A major deployment of security personnel to enforce the order is likely.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int

Belize emergency regulations: belize.gov.bz