Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2020. 5:33 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye was the site of the first two cases of COVID-19 reported in Belize, a daughter returning from abroad unknowingly passing the virus on to her mother.
Both have since recovered, but the town has been hit hard as the site of the first state of emergency which was later expanded nationwide, and the loss of the vital tourism industry, at least for now.
The San Pedro Town Council and area representative and Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Manuel Heredia, Jr. have been coordinating the management of the national state of emergency on Ambergris.
But an announcement of updated regulations issued on Tuesday, ahead of the planned release of new national regulations on Thursday, has caused uproar for varying reasons.
This afternoon, Police Commissioner Chester Williams posted on social media that “We have one country and one central government. There is currently in force one state of emergency that governs the entire country; therefore those measures being implemented in San Pedro are inconsistent with the state of emergency and illegal and non enforceable.”
We were not able to reach either Mayor Daniel Guerrero or the Minister today, and the Council’s offices are closed until Monday due to a planned outage and the observance of the Labour Day holiday on Friday.
Our colleagues at the San Pedro Sun quoted Mayor Guerrero from an appearance on Reef TV Morning Show on the day the national state of emergency went into effect, April 2: “We are not on par with what the Central Government is doing. We are on an island, and we do not have a hospital…if things were to get worse, we do not have the resources…we are kind of prepared, but we have to be real.” Guerrero added that the town is not challenging the Government, just thinking different.
He also noted that the town has prepared a “complete lockdown” plan in the event of more cases there.
Businesses on the island, as of Wednesday, are operating at the following times: grocery stores, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; pharmacies, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; tortilla factories and bakeries; 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.; banks, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; utility companies, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; fuel and butane gas companies, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.; ice cream shops, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., among others.
Other regulations include having permit to fish commercially and not fishing from the docks, piers and shores, and mandatory wearing of masks.
As per Belize’s constitution and legal framework, the Mayor nor Minister has any authority to pass or implement regulations that are different from what is passed by Central Government.
It is left to be seen if any action will be taken by the authorities to address this current dilemma on ‘La Isla Bonita’.
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