Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2020. 6:00 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the COVID-19 National Oversight Committee have continued to back allowing private flights to come to and from Belize as long as protocols are being followed.
Following an outbreak of cases on the island of Ambergris Caye, there have been fingers pointed at a tournament for fisherfolk and several private flights coming in and out of Belize in the month of July as possible “super-spreader” events that sent the island into lockdown. Health authorities have since identified other links including a church and a construction site.
A flight involving executives of Banco Atlántida of Honduras, parent of Atlantic Bank Limited, was already cleared, but the Prime Minister Dean Barrow had undertaken to follow up on another flight from Missouri, United States, that was flagged in records released by the Department of Civil Aviation early in August.
One Kevin Knasel, a real estate developer from Saint Louis, Missouri, visited his “Salt Lake” project on the island for ten days.
He came to Belize on his private jet out of Missouri, which then left with the pilot after Knasel disembarked. The Prime Minister says he brought his negative PCR test and stayed at his penthouse at Milo’s apartments – located south of San Pedro Town.
The Prime Minister told us on Friday, “There is no question but that in terms of getting the clearance for the flight Minister Heredia from San Pedro did assist. He makes no apologies about that because the person who came is a significant investor in Ambergris Caye. … He also owns 2 additional premises. He is the owner of a penthouse and he is the owner of a condo. His itinerary was such that he had come to check on the new investment that had been started in to which I am told already 20 million US dollars have been poured, but he stayed at his condo which is maybe a mile or so away from the site of the investment. He limited himself to going back and forth between the 2 places as far as we can tell and after something like 10 days or so he went back out of the country. Although the question of his circulating in the wider Ambergris Caye community and based on the protocol that we had developed about which we spoke in some detail last week there was nothing wrong with that flight and there was no lapse of judgment. There was no omission; there was no violation of any of the rules. End of story.”
Is it? San Pedranos would still like to know who was responsible for the outbreak on the island that ultimately spread across the country, lifting Belize’s total of cases from just 48 at the end of July to a staggering 1,000-plus entering September, only a fraction of those recovered and 11 additional deaths reported.
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