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Sep 30, 2020

Is the P.G.I.A. Ready for Reopening? Here is a Look at Protocols in Place

United and American Airlines are set to resume commercial flights beginning this Thursday.  More than seven hundred Belizeans and visitors are to land at the Philip Goldson International Airport in the next few days.  For months, the industry has been preparing for the day when the tourism industry can begin to bounce back and spur economic activity after months of the downturn caused by the COVID pandemic.  Today, we headed to the P.G.I.A. for an organized tour and a first-hand look at the steps the passengers will go through on arrival. Here is Hipolito Novelo with a report. 



Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

The Philip Goldson International Airports re-opens for commercial flights on Thursday, October first, and the government has ensured that protocols are in place at the P.G.I.A. to receive tourists and returning Belizeans. In fact, a little over seven hundred persons are expected to arrive over the course of the weekend; the majority are Belizeans which means that the anticipated boom in the tourism industry will not be immediate.  At the P.G.I.A. there are seven checkpoints


Misty Michael

Misty Michael, Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, B.T.B.

“When the airport reopens tomorrow the arrival process is slightly different for a tourist arriving with a negative PCR versus another passenger. The arrival process is comprised of seven different check points. Check point one is disembarking the airplane. Checkpoint two is a hospitality meet and greet. All passengers have to enter check point two. In this checkpoint we are basically ensuring that all passengers have downloaded the Belize health app, that they completed their arrivals. If they are Belizeans that they complete the quarantine form. In the case of tourists who are staying at a gold standard hotel and traveling within the same corridor, that they receive their sage corridor bands so that it makes it easier to move them through the safe corridor process. When there is also a health verification that takes place in checkpoint two. The public health inspectors will ensure that all of the information hat was placed into the Belize Health App is correct. There is also a temperature check that takes place at checkpoint two.”


Once cleared the person then moves to check point three for further processing.


Misty Michael

“Checkpoint three is another health check. The health nurses and then from there you move into checkpoint four which is the health unit. Now if you’ve arrive with a negative PCR and there are no other visible signs or symptoms that would indicate that you could possibly have COVID you will be cleared to go through the green line. If you are in the green line you bypass the health unit and you go straight through to immigration or customs processing.”


If a passenger arrives without a PCR test, they will be tested at the airport.


Misty Michael

“There is a differentiation within the testing as well. Tourists who are traveling within the safe corridor would only need to be swabbed and they will be able to exit the clinic and finish the arrival process. Belizean who will be going back into the community will be swabbed and they will proceed to checkpoint five which is a waiting lounge and they will wait there to get their test results from a health officer. We anticipate that the result will take anywhere from maybe twenty-five to thirty minutes for them to get that back. Once they receive their test results the health officer will place a stamp on their arrival form which indicates that they have been cleared by all of those previous checkpoint and then they will be allowed to enter back into the arrival hall to complete the entry process. And of course that include immigration, baggage claim and customs and that is check point six.”


The final checkpoint is the number seven at the airport exit.


Misty Michael

“At the exit, B.T.B. also has a team and they will be looking for tourist traveling within the sage corridor. So they will be looking for the wristbands. If they are traveling by ground transfer to their hotel say in Cayo they will be directed to the ground transfer outside. If they are traveling by air to one of the islands or down south the team will be working with Maya and Tropic for them to be at the door to pick up their passenger for onward transport.”


Access to the airport compound will be restricted. Only gold standard approved transportation will be allowed access. Operations Manager at the PGIA Enrique Hoare says over seven hundred airport employees have undergone training. Members of the airport taxi union have also participated training.


Enrique Hoare

Enrique Hoare, Operations Manager, P.G.I.A.

“We have done training for over seven hundred airport employees with the support of Ministry of Health on COVID especially.  We have also reached out to our airport taxi union that they both a training in Ministry of Health and they also did a training with B.T.B. to ensure that they can meet the various standards. We as the airport took it upon ourselves to say that everybody that is working at the airport must undergo a COVID training, failure to abide by that we will not allow that person to operate until they have received the necessary training. We will only allow the gold standards vehicles from the gold standard hotels and operators. We will only use the taxi to move people from the airport. For people coming to meet on their own, right now we are not going to allow any outside vehicle to come here except that have been certified.”


For Belizeans returning homes, they can be picked up at the entrance of the airport. Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo

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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