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Asthmatic woman pardoned for violating outdated mask-wearing law

Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2022. 3:00 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: The Belize City Magistrate’s Court pardoned a woman this week who said she was charged simply because she took off her mask while riding a dollar van for health reasons.

On December 7, 2021, while it was still a requirement to wear masks in public, the dollar van was stopped at a police checkpoint and Elizabeth Chacon was found not wearing her mask properly.

The Orange Walk Town resident was told to show up for court on January 11, 2022, but did not do so and a bench warrant was issued for her. During her court appearance on Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to the offense, with an explanation.

Chacon told Magistrate Baja Shoman that she is asthmatic and that the environment in the dollar van that day was causing her to experience symptoms similar to an asthma attack. She said she only pulled down her mask so she could breathe properly, and that she tried to explain that to the police officer charging her, but the officer did not listen.

Magistrate Shoman asked if she could prove that she was asthmatic, and Chacon presented medical documents to prove that she was. With that, Magistrate Shoman said that she would be exempt from paying the fine under Section 59-B of the Summary Jurisdiction Procedure Act, Chapter 99 of the Laws of Belize.

Had she been convicted, Chacon would have had to pay $500, because the offense was committed before April 1, when the regulations were officially removed.


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