Monday, June 17, 2024

Change: COVID-19 regulation mandating vaccination card or negative test applies only when accessing government buildings

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The government has made changes to the new COVID-19 regulations set to start on October 1st. The new measures, designed to contain the spread of the virus, mandates that people provide proof of vaccination or a negative test to access public buildings and services. The new change, as per Minister of Health and Wellness Honourable Michel Chebat, will only apply to government-owned buildings.

The initial regulation not only included government buildings, but private establishments/businesses, transportation services, and private schools. According to a report shared on Wednesday, September 29th, Chebat scaled back the regulation, reportedly following recommendations from recent consultations. The mandate to enforce the rule on the entities mentioned above had been confirmed by Attorney General Magali Marin Young on Tuesday, September 28th. Following Chebat’s report, she noted that the regulation will only apply to government-owned structures. These include government health center’s, institutions like the Belize Social Security Board, among other places like Belize Tax Services.

This regulation is not expected to affect the tourism industry as foreign visitors are either vaccinated, show a negative test, or get tested before being allowed to enter the country. Members of the business community have also expressed a sigh of relief, as they were concerned about how the original mandate could affect their operations. The private establishments were required by the law to enforce the regulation and failure to do so could see them paying a hefty fine. When the pre-amended regulation was confirmed, a few of these businesses had reported cancellations in hotel reservations in places like Ambergris Caye. However, if private entities would still want to enforce such regulations, they can do so.

Visitors and residents can still expect temperature check-ups, enforcement to wear face masks, hand sanitization, and social distance when accessing public areas/buildings. The ultimate goal is to flatten the number of COVID-19 infections. The recent report showed over 2,000 persons infected with the virus countrywide with 50 hospitalizations and 14 patients in the Intense Care Unit of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City. The deaths caused by COVID-19 complications have also increased with the mark over 400 now. The numbers continue to slowly increase daily.

The Government of Belize continues with its vaccination campaign encouraging as many Belizeans to get vaccinated. The majority of fatalities due to the virus are in those unvaccinated. A vital reason for the government to implore Belizeans to get the vaccine. There are abundant, free vaccines available that include, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sinopharm, and Johnson & Johnson.

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