Authorities reopened the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) to international passenger flights on Thursday, October 1, as authorities ease some restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. BZE will reopen as part of a five-phase reopening plan which also involves the reopening of government-approved hotels and restaurants under certain hygiene protocols. Those traveling to Belize will be required to download the Belize Health App. Arrivals will also undergo a health screening. If travelers test positive for the virus they must undergo a 14-day quarantine at a government-approved quarantine hotel.
Restrictions and requirements are different depending on the category of arriving travelers. Belizean nationals and residents, as well as second homeowners, qualified retired persons, and long-stay travelers will be subject to mandatory COVID-19 testing upon arrival at the airport. Those who test negative are required to self-quarantine for 10 days. However, business and leisure travelers will be required to provide a negative PCR test for COVID-19 acquired no more than 72 hours prior to arrival and must stay at a Gold Standard hotel or owned property. Business travelers must have their itinerary approved and leisure travelers will only be permitted to engage in authorized Gold Standard tourism activities.
Gatherings of over ten people are also prohibited. Pubs, bars, and nightclubs are currently closed. The wearing of face masks and social distancing in public are mandatory.
As of October 1, there have been 1,992 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Belize with 27 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay. To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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