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May 14, 2020

Multimillion-Dollar Question: When Will the P.G.I.A. Recommence Operations?

International travel has come to a halt with the closing of the international airport and borders in almost every country. Here in Belize, ports of entries remain close, only cargo is allowed and only citizens from other countries are allowed to travel out of Belize. This week, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines announced that international flights to the region will slowly resume in the coming months. Prime Minister Dean Barrow says that phase is still in discussion with the hope of reopening the P.G.I.A. by July first.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Discussion of this new phase in the easing of restrictions naturally begs the multimillion dollars question, when will our borders reopen and when in particular will the P.G.I.A. recommence operations. I have no comprehensive answer to give but I can say this much, we are contemplating special and differential treatment for the P.G.I.A., with the hope that general entry into Belize by air can begin even before entry by land and sea. Thus a July first re-start for international flights, is the fervent hope of us all. Indeed, it has been the trigger for contingency tourism planning that is now well advanced.  Unfortunately, however, we must concede the distinct possibility of a push back. Unless, for instance, either a rapid test is available for us to screen visitors or they can produce a satisfactory passport immunity certificate, it is difficult to see how we could proceed. Otherwise we will run unacceptable risks that could result in undoing all we have so far been able to achieve in this extended anti-Coronavirus campaign. I certainly see that it is very possible; maybe even likely that w can reach a point before July first that would then allow us to reopen the P.G.I.A. for July first. But that it is not by any means a matter of certainty and that is why I stress the nature of this COVID-19 pandemic is such targets are constantly moving, goal posts are constantly shifting and in that context it is unfortunate but necessary for us to enter the reservation that I have just articulated. I am sorry that it cannot be any more definite than that but in terms of COVID-19 that is the nature of the beast.”

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