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May 28, 2021

Minister Mahler on Border Reopening Amid COVID-19 Concerns

The reopening of land borders for tourist arrivals has raised concerns about the continued spread of the coronavirus in Belize, notwithstanding government’s push to reduce the number of infections.  Earlier this week, Cabinet announced that the borders with Guatemala and Mexico will be reopened on May thirty-first.  In the wake of that announcement, Doctor Mark Musa, a practitioner at the Belize Medical Associates and sibling of Home Affairs Minister Kareem Musa, shared his misgivings publicly via a social media post.  This morning, Minister of Tourism Anthony Mahler responded by outlining the measures that will be put in place come Monday.


Anthony Mahler

Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism & Diaspora Relations

“I know that this is a touchy situation or a touchy point for people and I, too, am concerned about the reopening of the borders, but I am confident that the standard operating procedures and the protocols that we will put in place or are putting in place.  We will have a safe reopening.  If you look at the reopening of the airport, that some were opposed to in October and you look at the numbers coming through the airport, you will see the number of positive cases through the airport is minimal.  The airport represents about seventy-five percent of the overnight arrivals coming into this country.  The land borders then and the seaports, altogether, the other twenty-five percent.  So you’re dealing with smaller, much smaller numbers than through the airport, but the protocols will be a little bit more stringent.  Instead of having a rapid test for forty-eight hours, you will need one in twenty-four; instead of having a PCR test for ninety-six hours, you will need it for seventy-two hours.  Anybody who tests positive will be sent back.  They have to stay at a gold standard hotel and I have to stress this to the Belizean public, we are not opening the borders for a free-for-all.  It is only for tourists who are passing through or coming into this country, staying at a gold standard hotel and moving through the country with a gold standard tour operator.”

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