By Aaron Humes: Confirmed to be on Cabinet’s desk this week is a paper outlining the plan to ease restrictions due to COVID-19, according to Minister of Health and Wellness Kevin Bernard.
“This week, I am taking that paper to Cabinet. So I am prepared thereafter, at the end of this week, to make my presentation to the media as to what we are going to do, what are the restrictions that we are going to lift and those restrictions we are hoping will take effect on the first of March,” he told reporters on Monday.
The Minister described himself as “cautious but optimistic,” noting that Belize is not likely to imitate larger countries that are completely removing restrictions: “I don’t personally think we are at that stage yet in Belize where we are going to get rid of our mask and certain things. I think the mask mandate must remain for a while and that is the recommendation coming from my medical response team and also from my personal medical advisors that I have.”
Later, the Minister said he does support the complete removal of the curfew that has been in place almost from the moment the pandemic began here: “I do support the removal of the curfew completely, I do support that we need to open up for sports, we need to open up for some events with restrictions, of course, with certain limitations. But at the same time, our people need to go back to some level of normalcy in this country after two years with [COVID].”
Elsewhere, Prime Minister John Briceño concurred, saying he believes it’s time: “I think I was one of the first that said, way back when I was co-chair [of the National Oversight Committee] with former Prime Minister Barrow, that we have to learn to live with COVID. I realize that COVID is going to be here to stay and so in Cabinet, we’ve been looking at ways and at the same time following the science as to how we can lift some of these restrictions. We’ve had them for too long, it was necessary, but there comes a time. COVID is going to be here and fortunately, the omicron variant is not as serious as the delta and so we believe that it is time to look at how we can open up – easing up restrictions, easing up on the curfew and finding ways on how we can better work and operate in Belize, as they call it, living with COVID.”