Last week Belize’s Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, announced the plans for the reopening of the international airport in what will be Phase 3 of 5 in the official Travel Reopening Plan. (phase 1 and 2 went mostly unnoticed by the general public as there was not much fan fare over the repatriation of nationals- unless they tested positive and inched our country count towards the 30 cases mark, we’re still not there!)
August 15th is the date the country has its eye on. When we’ll reopen to tourist… in a very limited, confined manner and with plenty of new regulations and protocols. I’ve delayed writing about this because I still haven’t gotten a thorough understanding of the particulars.
While no one is exactly sure how travel will look in August, here is what I think the picture will be.
We’ve got no Covid cases and we’re trying to keep it that way
Everyone entering the country will be tested. You can expedite this process by bringing the (negative) results of a PCR test performed within 72 hours of travel. If you come without test results you will be given a rapid test in the Philip Goldson International Airport—at your own expense! No one has said what the price tag on this will be. If you test positive, you become a prisoner of tourism (I made that term up just now) and will be sent directly to quarantine… do not pass go, do not collect $200… and you’ll be footing the bill for your mandated sentence in quarantine (minimum 2 weeks!). I HIGHLY recommend coming with test results because that is quite a gamble; if you roll snake eyes at the airport, you’ll be suffering a very boring and lonely vacation in accommodations that where nothing like the resort you’d booked.
You’ll always feel like somebody’s watching you
What year is it? 1984? Mr. Orwell warned us about this. If you pass your test and enter the country you will be required to download an app (the Belize Health App) that will collect health and travel data on individuals. It isn’t available yet but it sounds like you’ll be required to answer daily surveys on symptoms and input temperature readings. What I think is the major component of the app: its GPS function. You will be tracked! This is two-fold; they’re looking to monitor your wandering as you aren’t supposed to be mingling with the general population. But if you do mingle and you actually end up having the virus (how’d you get in? we tested you!) the GPS history can easily be pulled and utilized for community contact mapping.
You’re going Gold….and going nowhere else
In this initial segment of Phase 3, travelers must have reservations at a resort that’s been accredited with the Tourism Board’s new “Gold Standard” for enhanced health and safety protocols. The resorts that are initially eligible for this prestigious sounding title are only those that have their own restaurant(s), pool and or beach front, shuttles, spa, and private tour operators. Basically, an all-inclusive sort of set up. To mitigate exposure, your resort picks you up from the airport and drops you back off when you’re stay is through and everything in between was done on their property. This of course had everyone talking: what about small local businesses?! What about people with second homes in Belize that want to return? What about? What if? What the f?
There are still a lot of questions to be answered and we’re still about 6 weeks from some of them. I was hoping the Belize Tourism Board’s conference today would answer a few more what abouts but it was postponed. I guess we’ll just have to wait a bit more and see.