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Oct 2, 2020

Day 2 of P.G.I.A. Reopening, Two Flights Land in Belize

Belize is among a number of Caribbean countries that is resuming international travel amid the COVID pandemic.  The second commercial flight landed today as Belize opened up the skies for international travel prior to the start of the high tourism season.  United Airlines touched down at the Philip Goldson International Airport this morning, bringing Belizeans and visitors from its hub in Houston.  With a negative COVID-19 test result, Belizeans are allowed to proceed home for a ten-day isolation period. Visitors are confined to Gold Standard Hotels, but those testing positive will go the Ramada Princess for quarantine.  Tight protocols are being implemented to ensure that all are safe from the virus. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports from the P.G.I.A.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The resumption of commercial activity at the Philip Goldson International Airport continues to see a trickle of visitors arriving in Belize ahead of the tourist high season later this year.  At midday, a combined total of one hundred and forty travelers had deplaned from two aircrafts arriving from Miami and Houston, respectively.  International air travel, in the context of COVID-19, requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in proximity of other travelers, as well as frequently touched surfaces.

 

Zane Bradley

Zane Bradley, Public Health Inspector

“Our role here today was to provide screening for the passengers that were coming in from abroad, for tourists and the local people entering our country.”

 

At the P.G.I.A., efforts have been taken to prioritize the well-being of passengers, as well as airport staff.

 

Zane Bradley

“The screening process entails collecting information from the passengers to find out whether or not they have done their PCR tests before entering our country because by knowing this information we have two lines that they go in when they are going into Checkpoint 3, there would be a red line and a green line.  The green line would be people that would come with their PCR test and have negative results within seventy-two hours.  For those that haven’t brought a PCR test, they will go in the red line and for further processing.”

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most viruses and germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.  Nonetheless, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within six feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase the risk of getting COVID-19.  As of October first, Belize is once again open for tourism and other international visitors with entry requirements that include a negative COVID-19 test result.

 

Zane Bradley

“There was a whole lot of preparation.  I still believe that we are not there hundred percent but we are well on the way.”

 

From a broad perspective, government has consolidated the efforts of various ministries so as to ensure that all protocols are synchronized for efficiency.

 

Yashin Dujon

Yashin Dujon, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism & Civil Aviation

“This has been a combination of efforts between BAHA, the Belize Tourism Board, the Ministry of Health, Customs, Immigration, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Department of Civil Aviation to try and get a secure screening and processing system in place for passengers to be able to enter the country and be safely tested and then be allowed to go on from there to their final destinations.”

 

Chief Executive Officer Yashin Dujon, of the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, explains that there are various processes that must be undertaken for visitors to be cleared.

 

Yashin Dujon

“What we do here is that we check through seven checkpoints that they have to go through in order to leave the facility.  Each checkpoint functioned well.  We had one or two glitches as you can expect on an opening day, but we were able to quickly overcome that from the weeks of practice that we’ve had and the exercise today was very, very good.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


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