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Sep 9, 2021

Proof of Vaccine for Public Spaces Beginning October 1

On Thursday morning, while most Belizeans were preparing for the long weekend ahead, Minister of Health and Wellness Michel Chebat made an announcement on Open Your Eyes Morning Show that has the nation talking.  Here is Paul Lopez with the details.


Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness

“Starting on the first of October, only persons who are vaccinated will be able to enter into public buildings. And, public buildings include not only the government buildings, but also privately owned buildings. It would include any building where the public has lawful access to, including schools.”


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The conversation surrounding the October 1st announcement has flooded social media. There are mixed reviews.

One user wrote saying, “your name will go down in history for further crippling our strained economy.” Another user suggested more transparency and education, instead of this measure. While, a third user wrote, “all roads are leading to this one world digital pass, aka (Mark of the Beast),” while another individual said, “Modern-day slavery, this is madness.” There are those on the other hand who support the Government’s decision, like Leader of the Opposition, Shyne Barrow. This user says he is fully vax, so he is not bothered. Others wrote saying, “best move done in my opinion”, “finally”, and “thank you, Minister Chebat.”  There were those who used the announcement to bring some light-hearted comic relief, writing, “I hope B.E.L., B.T.L., and Courts understand October 1st why ppl can’t pay the bills.” And, “bet yuh if Chetumal mi she that, unu never mi wa complain.”

It is worth mentioning that this latest regulation is not mandating vaccination for the general public. And for those wondering how legal such a move is, a Law professor at the University of the West Indies says the clear and present danger of Covid-19 presents reasons for limiting rights, and does not violate Belize’s Constitution.


Marie Belle Antoine

Prof Rose Marie Belle Antoine, Labour and Offshore Financial Law, UWI Trinidad

“It’s always about balancing competing rights and interest. I want to suggest that in this particular context of COVID, when you balance it, when you weigh it, there is no doubt in my mind that rights in relation to the public interest will allow it. We have enough precedents. We have enough constitutional positions, including, your own constitution that will suggest that when you do balance these rights, that in the end it will be justifiable from a constitutional point of view, to limit rights in favor of a vaccine. And the reason is because of the danger, the clear and present danger that is really presented to the entire society.”


As Minister Chebat clarified, public building refers to any building or business that the public legally has access to enter.


Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat

“It will also apply to public transport.”


Marleni Cuellar

“So if I want to go into a government building, if, I need to catch a bus, a restaurant, I will have to show proof of vaccination to be able to enter.”


Michel Chebat

“That is correct.”


Paul Lopez

“Perhaps one of the questions that may arise, has to do with hospitals as a public building, persons who have not gotten vaccinated or did not get the opportunity to take a test but needs immediate attention, would they be barred?”


Michel Chebat

“No, of course not, health services will not be barred to anyone. “


Paul Lopez

“So, does that mean that if I work at a place, and if I enter that place on a daily basis that I also need to get vaccinated? So, an employee in any in business, I must get vaccinated?”


Michel Chebat

“Absolutely, if you wish to work or if you wish to enter any of these public buildings, you must be vaccinated or present a negative test.”


In the event a person is not vaccinated, a recent PCR or rapid test should be presented.  Children below the age of twelve are exempted due to the unavailability of vaccines for this age group. Professor Antoine refers to the Belize government’s approach as a “soft law” approach.


Prof Rose Marie Belle Antoine

“I can say, I came to the table very cautiously being a human rights advocate. But, I see no way out. And not only that, the longer we delay, what concerns me, the longer we delay the more lives we lose. Because I think it has become so clear that it is really a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.


The Ministry of Health and Wellness’ announcement comes on the same day as U.S. President Joe Biden announced sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as one hundred million Americans in an all out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the delta variant.

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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