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Jun 3, 2020

Adjusting to the New Normal Amid Coronavirus Threat

Businesses are finding new ways to provide customers with personal safety. In the downtown area of the City, Dibary, is one of the attractive places to shop. But due to the COVID pandemic, the business is adapting a feature that will attract customers back to the store.  The new norm will now require customers to get disinfected through a mist tunnel when entering the business. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report. 


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The second person in Belize to have succumbed to the novel coronavirus was sixty-three-year-old Conrad Everett.  The Belize City resident, along with his family, attended an event at the Plaza Diner in mid-March when it is believed that he may have contracted the deadly disease at that gathering.  Amid an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in April, the entire country went into mandatory lockdown and with the gradual reopening of stores and other businesses, proprietor Walter Campos is taking no chances.


Walter Campos

Walter Campos, Owner, Dibary Store

“I think this is the new normal and we have to understand that everything [has] changed and we don’t know for how long.  To me, it’s a very good idea to start to use this machine in the door.”


What he is referring to is a piece of equipment called a mist tunnel.  Much like a metal detector, customers are now required to pass through the machine where they are disinfected prior to entering the building.


Russell Gongora

Russell Gongora, Owner, S.A.F.E.

“This is a disinfection tunnel and what we have done is that we have used a high grade material for the outdoors and it’s a misting process.  What it does is it mists disinfectant and the product is from hydrogen mixed with peracetic acid at very, very low concentrations but are effective against the coronavirus and it’s under the EPA list of disinfectants that is approved by the Ministry of Health.  We use it to disinfect surface areas and in this case to disinfect people that are entering into your premises.”


Located in downtown Belize City, on any given day there is always heavy foot traffic in Dibary Store.  The process subjects everyone to stand under the device for a few seconds while they are sprayed from above and on both sides by three mistifiers.  It is the first of its kind for any business in the country during these COVID times.


Walter Campos

“I recommend for different kinds of businesses, for example, I think the bus terminals need a machine like this.  Some people cross into the bus terminal every minute and then before the people reach the bus they have to maybe disinfect their whole self.  I think the airport needs a machine like this to, all the restaurants, all retail businesses, I think, have to start to think to buy a machine like this because it’s really important.  Maybe right now we are free from coronavirus but we don’t know for how long.”


A mist tunnel at the Philip Goldson International Airport or at various bus terminals across the country does in fact seem practical.  On a daily basis, hundreds, if not thousands of travelers, pass through these facilities.


Russell Gongora

“I would like to encourage especially the government to look into something like this, especially to enforce in this case the repatriated Belizeans that are coming in.  It’s something that should be looked into so that the disinfection starts from the people coming from the airplanes into our country, the luggage and even our students.”


There is also a proposal for a device such as this to be installed at all schools.  Manufactured locally from parts that were sourced in Belize, the cost of purchasing a mist tunnel is not prohibitive.


Russell Gongora

“It’s made to stand the elements of the weather that we have in Belize and the electronics part was a challenge because it was something that we are accustomed to get something from Ebay, but because of the foreign currency to buy things from the U.S. and freight it’s been challenging for us to get certain items, but we have been working with the local suppliers for those electronics and I am glad that everything is bought locally so that we can make the product here locally.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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