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Re-opening Commercial Free Zone faces stiff competition from Chetumal 

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Posted: Saturday, January 30, 2021. 3:55 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Commercial Free Zone, Corozal, will re-open on Monday, February 1, but not land frontiers with Mexico or Guatemala, according to Minister of Health and Wellness Michel Chebat. 

In announcing the re-opening of the Zone, Minister of Home Affairs, Kareem Musa, explained that the Zone’s board of directors is to ensure that temperature checks of each entrant into the Zone is done and logged. Owners and managers of businesses in the Zone are to abide by regulations to be set by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which has been examining businesses in the Zone to ensure they are properly equipped to receive customers starting on Monday. Both Ministries will continue to monitor activity therein. 

Concerning particularly opening up for tourism, Minister Chebat stated, “At this time we are not opening the land borders; whatever movement is coming in from Mexico is going to be restricted to business owners, initially for the purposes of ensuring that they are in compliance with the regulations to be able to open their business, and then it will just be extended to possible customers of the Free Zone. But we are not opening the borders for entry into the national territory beyond the Free Zone.” 

The Zone will be subject to the same regulations as the rest of Belize and employees will use designated transport at 75 percent capacity. Testing will take place randomly of entrants and the capacity for restaurants will be limited to 50 percent and dining outdoors. The Zone will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. only and casinos will remain closed. 

The Western Free Zone near Benque Viejo remains closed, but depending on the success in the North, Musa added, it may be considered for re-opening. 

And the Commercial Free Zone dives into the stiff headwinds of competition from Chetumal, according to Mexican news site MegaNews. 

At a recent virtual forum, it was announced that tourists to Chetumal’s Free Zone can buy up to US$1,000 individually and US$2,500 per family in duty-free products such as food, beverages, clothing, footwear, stationery, medical equipment, and construction material. 

The fiscal incentives announced last year are in effect as of December 30, boosting consumption, imports, as well as the economic, commercial, and tourist development of Chetumal, according to a specialist in customs procedures, Thelmo Rejón. 

Rejón said Chetumal and Mexico’s southern frontier states hoped to encourage road tourism and reactivation of the economy of that area, producing an economic spillover to hotels and restaurants from the purchase of imported products. 

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