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The new normal for visiting Belize by air

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Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020. 4:45 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Earlier we explained what happens before tourists and other visitors are expected to arrive by air at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA), according to Director of Tourism Karen Bevans.

But what happens when they get here?

They will, says Bevans, encounter a regimented and rigorous system determined to keep all traces of COVID-19 out of Belize, or sufficiently contained.

It starts with registering on the Belize Health and Travel App and booking the hotel, also on the app. Bevans says the hotels will be asked to encourage guests to be tested at least 72 hours before they arrive, with a negative result securing a ‘fast-track arrival’ process.

On touchdown at the PGIA, visitors will face health screening, temperature checks and verification of health information using the QR Code number from the App, and those presenting a negative COVID-19 test will be cleared through the fast lane.

For those without a test, they will be tested at their cost with rapid test kits; a positive result means their vacation will be spent in quarantine for at least 14 days. Those testing negative may be randomly selected for a PCR test but they will be cleared through to Immigration and Customs.

Luggage will be sanitized after being removed, then placed on the carousel for passengers to pick up and placed on new luggage scanners to be checked. These are being procured.

The PGIA will be kept spick and span at all times, with constant cleaning of the terminal building, especially high touch surfaces, and social distancing and mask-wearing is mandatory. Only ticketed passengers will be allowed into the Airport.

And once finally through, only hotels with the ‘Gold Standard’ – nine checkmarks for health and safety standards – will be allowed to accept visitors. The protocols have been released to the accommodation industry and training is underway.

Hotels will be opened to visiting tourists in phases. Phase 1 involves full-service providers who have met the Gold Standard. This means these hotels will have all amenities for tourists and limit contact. These hotels must have at minimum, transport to and from the airport; a restaurant and pool, or beachfront access on-site and be able to provide isolated tours only for their guests.

Bevans summarized that in addition to the general protocols, tour operators and hotels and restaurants have their own special standards. A ‘Safe Corridor’ methodology keeps visitors to routine routes, with specific mediums, keeping guests contained, allowing for contact tracing, and limiting community involvement. Only authorized transport (drivers who can clean and sanitize their vehicles and get their guests to and from) will be allowed at the Airport and tours may be made by appointment only.

 

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