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‘I’ll be home for Christmas’: Belize to spend holidays, New Year’s under present curfew

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Posted: Tuesday, November 23, 2021. 4:08 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Expect to spend Christmas and New Year’s under the present curfew.

That is because the new curfew hours will run until January 15, 2022, according to the new Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 147 amending the Public Health Regulations that were passed on October 13, 2021.

The present SI also made amendments to restaurant dining and entering Government offices.

So, if you were planning on being out a little longer for the end-of-the-year celebrations, pray the Government does another amendment before Christmas. After all, Prime Minister John Briceño said in October that the three-month plan envisioned the curfew starting at 11:00 pm from Sunday to Thursday and at 12:00 am (midnight) for Friday and Saturday. That’s still possible but it will depend on the pandemic situation improving during the next month.

If not, we better get accustomed to going in by 10:00 pm until 4:00 am from Sundays to Thursdays and from 11:00 pm to 4:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays.

That means that even though there has been a bit more relaxing with regards to church services and dining out, these will be constrained by the curfew hours.,

The removal last month of immunization requirement for church attendance and now for dining at restaurants, saloons, diners, and similar establishments has been a welcome move but attendance is still limited to 50 percent of capacity. Properly ventilated, open-air, outdoor, or ‘al fresco’ restaurants can go up to 75 percent capacity.

Meanwhile, amendments have been made to accessing government offices, both for workers and visitors, but not by much.

The October 13 regulations required persons to “present proof of immunization together with a valid identification card”. The November 22 amendment adds “showing that the person is either immunized or has received the first dose of a vaccine requiring more than one dose, and the date for the second dose of the vaccine has not elapsed”.

The Chief Executive Officer, Head of Department, or head of a statutory body may allow entry to persons who do not fulfill that requirement if the persons show proof of not being infected with COVID-19 such as a negative COVID-19 test.

Under the regulations, Government workers may be denied entry to their worksite if they don’t comply being “deemed absent from work and subject to disciplinary proceedings in accordance with any law that regulates the services of that person”.

Persons accessing courts as a juror, witness, or as a party to court proceedings; police stations; or prison “for the purpose of being remanded or serving a prison sentence” have to present “a negative rapid test or negative PCR test taken not more than two weeks before the date of entering such building or an immunization card which shows that the person has received the first dose of a vaccine and the date for the second dose of the vaccine has not elapsed”.

This regulation on accessing government facilities, however, does not apply to children under the age of twelve years. Neither does it apply to a person who needs emergency medical attention at a public medical institution, but the person must submit to testing if hospitalization is necessary.

The regulation does not apply to persons taken to a police station to be detained, questioned, or charged “provided that such a person shall submit to testing by the Ministry responsible for health immediately after being detained, questioned or charged”.

As per any of these public health regulations, contravening these regulations is an offense, and transgressors may be issued with a $500 violation ticket.

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