A destination still requiring foreign tourists to present proof of vaccination or a negative test in order to enter, Belize could soon become the next country in the Caribbean to lift all remaining Covid restrictions, as announced by a top government official. And what’s best: a further relaxation of measures is expected as soon as next week.
Though vaccinated travelers have enjoyed hassle-free visits to Belize throughout most of the pandemic, recently even those considered fully immunized have had to observe a series of requirements. Among them, tourists must purchase mandatory health insurance, book accommodation at a Gold Standard property, and wear masks once inside various indoor spaces.
Now, it seems the country is preparing to lift most – if not all – curbs.
Belize’s Cabinet Might Lift Remaining Restrictions As Soon As April
Speaking at the Spanish Lookout Business Expo, Belize’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Eamon Courtenay, suggested that any remaining Covid restrictions still being enforced by Belizean authorities might be lifted ‘next week‘. That means travelers due to arrive in the country this April for their yearly vacations could experience an even-freer Belize.
During his statement, the Minister pinpointed that it is ‘important’ to appreciate that, because of Covid, Belize has suffered ‘the worst economic crisis’ of its recent History. As a nation heavily reliant on tourism, especially that originating from nearby countries such as Mexico and the United States, Belize’s economy took a heavy hit over the last couple of years.
Courtenay highlighted how the pandemic took its toll on average Belizeans, not only due to infections and subsequent deaths, but also job losses. In 2020, the first year of the crisis, the small nation experienced a staggering 16% fall in GDP, with over 65,000 Belizeans losing their jobs, as a result of strict health protocols and tight measures that made travel burdensome for several categories of travelers.
While he notes that ‘personal rights and freedoms had to be seriously curtailed in the public interest’, the Foreign Minister concedes that the cost of Covid was substantial, hinting that the country may soon reopen further. In his own words, those monitoring the level of restrictions in Belize closely should ‘tune in for the announcement from the Cabinet next week’.
According to him, there is a chance ‘freedoms will be restored again‘ following the announcement. At present, the measures that are still in place across Belize involve mandatory mask wearing indoors and in public offices, enforcement of physical distancing in indoor settings, capacity limits for certain venues, and a Covid proof of entry for foreign travelers, including U.S. citizens.
What Exact Measures Could Be Relaxed Next Week In Belize?
While the country has recently started allowing fully vaccinated Americans, as well as other immunized visitors, to enter without a negative PCR test, the unvaccinated are still subject to testing.
When unable to present a vaccination certificate, foreigners must be in possession of a negative PCR result, issued within 72 hours of arrival, or a negative Rapid Antigen result dated no earlier than 48 hours prior to the border crossing.
Home test kits are also not accepted.
When choosing to not undergo testing prior to traveling, unvaccinated visitors are subject to testing at the airport upon arrival for a fee of US$50, or BZ$100, to be paid in cash.
If an active infection is picked up, they will then be required to undertake quarantine at a government-approved hotel at their own expense, only being allowed to leave following verified recovery, such as a second negative test.
For now, we still do not know what travel restrictions will be lifted exactly in April, or whether the Cabinet will focus specifically on the easing of internal mandates, such as mask usage and the scrapping of the Gold Standard program.
Currently, those eligible to visit Belize must book accomodation at a Gold Standard-listed hotel, and are required to present proof of having done so. It is also not possible to affirm, at this stage, whether Belize will follow neighboring Mexico’s lead in scrapping all existing Covid border measures.
Unlike Belize, Mexico grants both the vaccinated and unvaccinated unrestricted entry, having returned to pre-pandemic travel regulations and going as far as removing the increasingly popular Health Declaration Form.
We will find out more about the Cabinet’s reopening plan next week, as revealed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. Right now, despite its tougher protocols, Belize is one of the safest countries to visit in the Caribbean, reporting a nearly negligible average of 8 infections per day, or only 1% of its January 23 peak.
Due to these favorable trends, which point towards a further relaxation of rules, travelers can expect more positive news coming from Belize in the next few days.
For those scheduled to arrive in Belize soon and who are seeking official information, we advise you to check the Belize Tourism Board website for more updates.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com