By Aaron Humes: The last of the borders of Belize will be reopening on New Year’s Day.
And while some are eagerly anticipating returns to Chetumal, Mexico, and Melchor de Mencos, Guatemala, among favorite destinations, others worry they will bring back the Omicron variant of COVID-19 to Belize where none has been detected so far.
Prime Minister John Briceno says there will be rules set after a meeting with Minister of Health and Wellness Michel Chebat and Minister responsible for Immigration, Senator Eamon Courtenay on Wednesday.
But the P.M. anticipates that no matter what we do, Belize will be facing off with Omicron sooner rather than later: “We can’t run away from it, we can’t afford to lock down the entire country like we did before. It’s going to set us back even more. So, we just have to open up and continue to be as cautious as we possibly can and the most important thing is to get vaccinated.”
The Prime Minister further emphasized the importance of vaccination: “That’s the only way we can help you and those that have already gotten vaccinated get your booster shots. Covid-19 is a flu and that’s what people don’t understand. The flu you get it every year if you’re not careful and you could get it today and then 1-2 months later you could get it again, that’s Covid-19. It’s so much more deadlier and the only way we can protect ourselves is getting vaccinated.”
The total percentage of Belizeans fully vaccinated is still around 45 percent, with many awaiting second doses and booster shots.
As for economic concerns, the Prime Minister said Belizeans can hardly be stopped from stretching their dollar anywhere they can, and that Belize needs to fight for its share: “Well it is obvious that more and more people will be able to go and spend their money in Chetumal, but we just have to do as business people to do more to get our people to stay home and giving them less incentives to go to buy in Chetumal, but we can’t stay locked up forever and that’s the reality.”