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August 3, 2020

House debates: “Are we ready to re-open?”

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Posted: Monday, August 3, 2020. 2:20 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Ahead of the re-opening of the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) on August 15, the Government, in the words of Patrick Faber, is creating a legal framework to govern the handling of immigrants and tourists.

But the Opposition questions whether Belize can safely accept American tourists with the reality of the massive spike in COVID-19 cases ongoing there.

Caribbean Shores representative Kareem Musa pointed to the lack of available beds for intermediate care – those not sick enough to be placed on ventilators. He also questioned whether the planned geo-tracking app is tested and working to trace tourists during their time here.

He pointed out a potential loophole in the Act where if someone lands refusing to take a COVID-19 test (despite it being mandatory even before arrival), it would be difficult to send them back or consider quarantining them. The person ordinarily would be refused permission to land.

And he questioned why the focus on America and not, for example, Canada and Europe.

And Leader of the Opposition John Briceño made note that he was prepared to support reopening the Airport as originally scheduled on July 1 – before the COVID-19 resurgence in the United States.

He revealed that nothing was done when a Belizean-American offered to do a tracking app free of cost back in April (when he was co-chaired of the National COVID-19 Oversight Committee).

And he said it was not necessary to fight over this issue, merely to work together, especially when it comes to reigning in those giving in to their baser impulses.

Health Minister Pablo Marin interjected to say that Belize has the requisite supplies and beds in Belize City and Belmopan as well as the community hospitals.

And Prime Minister Dean Barrow made clear that while some complain, you are not welcome if you do not comply, and the relevant acts do make clear what happens in the routine occurrence that someone does in fact not comply.

And concerning the 1 July date, the Prime Minister pointed out that Belize was “not ready” then and could have faced even worse conditions. In hindsight, Belize took its time and got itself to this place, but there is still time to pull back if necessary.

 

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