Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Belize modify coronavirus-related emergency restrictions April 26. Nightly curfew remains in effect.

This alert affects Belize

This alert began 27 Apr 2020 19:52 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 May 2020 08:59 GMT.

  • Event: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least April 30
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions

The government of Belize passed a law on April 26 modifying the travel and movement restrictions imposed throughout the country as a means of stemming the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Under the new law, a nightly 2000-0459 curfew remains in effect. For children 16 years of age or younger, the curfew hours are 1800-0559. During curfew hours, only certain government employees and essential workers who have been issued a special pass by the government may be in public. Outside the curfew hours, residents may only be in public to purchase essential goods, attend to a medical or veterinary need, provide care to a child or a sick, disabled, or elderly person, or to work in an approved business. Outside exercise, such as walking or jogging, is permitted only between the hours of 0500-0800.

Fuel stations, food and beverage manufacturers, agricultural and aquacultural interests, waste disposal companies, public transportation providers, bakers and tortilla factories, and construction companies and sites are approved for operation between the hours of 0900-1700. Pharmacies and food markets may operation between 0800-1900. Hotels, storefront offices for utilities, financial institutions, mechanic shops, parcel delivery services, hardware stores, and goods wholesalers may operate between the hours of 0500-2000; restaurants are also approved to operate 0500-2000, provided they do so exclusively on a pickup or delivery basis. The law also allows food mills and certain production factories, oil exploration and production facilities, ports, and public utilities to operate 14 hours a day.

Under the law, businesses are responsible for ensuring that all customers and staff maintain a distance of at least 1.8 meters (six feet) from each other and are required to place markers at store entrances and checkout counters indicating where customers must stand in order to comply with this requirement.

The current closure of all borders and ports of entry, including Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE), will remain in force. Only cargo and emergency flights are permitted to enter the country. In addition to foreigners, Belizeans outside the country are also prohibited from entering. Exceptions may be made for medical emergencies; however, those admitted to Belize will be held in a quarantine facility.

Police and military personnel are authorized to stop and question any person in public to ensure that he/she is acting in compliance with the restrictions; persons stopped by authorities are required to cooperate. A major deployment of security personnel to enforce the order is likely.

The law will remain in force for the duration of the state of emergency related to the spread of COVID-19. While the existing state of emergency is set to expire April 30, authorities may extend it.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Belizean government are similar to 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.

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.

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