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Jun 29, 2021

Should the Fully Vaccinated Be Allowed More Freedoms?

As the COVID-19 vaccination drive continues countrywide, one of the recurring questions is: should those who are fully vaccinated have to continue living with all of the restrictions being imposed by the Government of Belize?  It’s a growing topic of debate. Today, News Five’s Paul Lopez explored the different perspective and even surveyed our viewers to find out what they think.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

“Will the Minister of Health and Wellness say why COVID-19 restrictions have not been lifted for those citizens who are fully vaccinated?” This is one of three questions Leader of the Opposition, Moses Shyne Barrow will pose inside the National Assembly on Friday.


Shyne Barrow

Shyne Barrow, Leader of the Opposition

“Why not? These people that are fully vaccinated, they can enjoy the mass gatherings. They can enjoy concerts, sporting events, etc. Because, that way they can manage the population in a way that will contain the spread of COVID-19.”


It is a position that the Minister of Health and Wellness, appearing on a segment of Open Your Eyes, says his ministry is considering.


Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness

“We are also looking to see how we can ease up, how we can allow people who have been fully vaccinated some other level of freedom, from those who have not yet been vaccinated will not yet be allowed to enjoy.”


One month ago, the Center for Disease Control in the United States issued guidelines for fully vaccinated people. One of the key points the CDC made is that fully vaccinated people can “resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing.”  This includes activities like indoor gatherings with people from multiply households, full capacity worship services and crowded outdoor events.  We turned to Doctor Fernando Cuellar at the Belize Medical Associates for his thoughts on the question of whether fully vaccinated persons should be afforded additional liberties in our country too.


Fernando Cuellar

Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist, Belize Medical Associates

“Yeah, that is a remarkably interesting question. And I am sure it will lend to a lot of debate and back and forth. But generally, I would say yes. I would say that vaccinated persons should be given that extra privilege to do, or attend the different activities you mentioned, sporting events for example. However, it should also be taken in the context of what is going on. Like for example, right now we see the numbers going not in the direction we want, and we will have to react to those. Everything is fluid and I think persons will have to understand, as things happen so will the different guidelines come out nuh.  But yes, I would think that the vaccination and the more liberties would be even an incentive for people to be vaccinated. We see the poor uptake. We see the whole vaccination not going as well as we would want it to. And indeed, at the end of the day the vaccination is our way out, back to normalcy. It should be considered an incentive. Hey, if you vaccinated then you have lee more liberties to go to the restaurants and different gatherings, if the country permits it.”


We also posed this question to an event planner and promoter, Production Manager at Rumajay’s Mas, Demmy Williams.


Demmy Williams

Demmy Williams, Production Manager, Rumajay’s Mas

“From an event planning perspective it is encouraged to incentivize persons by telling them once they are fully vaccinated, they can return to some sense of normalcy, which is kind of the whole point of why we have a vaccine to begin with, so that we could get back to our regular way of life. The entire world has been devastated by COVID, not just from a health perspective, but how many economies did not crash. The entertainment industry accounts for billions of dollars worldwide, and those billions basically did not exist last year. Especially in Belize, where we have such an intricate promotional community with DJs, promoters venues, all of them losing out. And of course, the people we cater to, our patrons not having that entertainment, that night life, or just any form of release from everyday stress. So, we have been in this pandemic for over a year now. And, that burnout of course has now hit. And people the lose up to a year and a half of their lives and deh tired ah deh home. So, naturally getting vaccinated would be the better alternative to get you back on certain way of life.”


News Five’s social media followers were asked the same question and the responses we received varied.  There are those who do not believe fully vaccinated person should be given added liberties, while many others are of the opinion that great freedoms should be afforded to the fully vaccinated. One of the most popular comments also suggests it may serve as an incentive.  And, as the conversation continues into Friday’s House meeting, vaccination cards may soon become our new identification cards to enter business establishments and public functions.


Shyne Barrow, Leader of the Opposition

“If I am an establishment and I want to allow for gatherings that are not in keeping with protocols to protect against the spread of COVID, then I must find the funds to hire a person from the Ministry of Health who has a ledger of all of the people who are vaccinated. That is easy to do. So you cannot enter my establishment to enjoy live music.”


Demmy Williams

“In order to determine if a person is fully vaccinated, those vaccination cards will have to be like your identification card. I notice the size of ours is kinda big, which I personally think was a bit unnecessary, and saving the trees is a thing. It could have been more shaped like an identification card, kinda like what the ones in the [United] States look like, the little CDC cards you get. And, that makes it easier to transport. So, maybe that a tip the ministry could note.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.


The Ministry of Health and Wellness has yet to say whether any decision has been taken on allowing fully vaccinated persons added liberties. We expect to hear more on that on Friday when the House of Representatives meets.

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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