When it comes to the nitty-gritty of the businesses that will be allowed to open and the restrictions they will have to be abiding by, it is a very wide area to cover. We broke it down as best as we could, starting with how the Attorney General explained the provision of fuels and the time restrictions.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “These businesses are allowed to operate between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Now the curfew is eight you know, you notice we’re not saying they can close eight, close seven so you have time to get home eight, no excuse. If you close your shop at seven then you have to make sure that you serve everybody who you want to serve and shopkeepers and shop owners and people that work at the shop get home by eight. Fuel stations, fuel depots, LPG suppliers, LPS depots and LPG distributors; essentially gasoline, fuel, butane. People will be spending a lot more time home we’re assuming that they’ll be cooking more they have to have access to butane. Now if you could have access to butane from five in the morning why wait until six o’clock ? Why wait until six thirty? Go out early and get your thing so that by midday your finished.”
As it relates to public transportation, these will still be allowed to operate on land and water, these as well come with some restrictions. In this next excerpt, Peyrefitte speaks of transportation, fisherfolks, bakeries, and factories.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “Public transportation providers which is; busses, water taxis or anything like that that charges a fare that those would operate from 5:00 a.m to 7:00 p.m. Now remember you know, even though you have to be able to take a public transportation, for example in Belize City we have over 400 police officers who work in Belize City who are not from Belize City so they need the public transportation however they need to be on the bus because they’re security officers. If you don’t have to travel don’t travel and remember if you’re going to Corozal from Belize City you must be going for a purpose. You can’t just say “Well I’m going to buy tacos Sunday morning.” well I mean tacos is food but you can’t just go and hang out by the river. no you have to be going home or be going for essential services. Bakeries and tortilla factories, agro processors, food and carbonated and other beverage manufacturers soft drinks and stuff like that, agricultural and aqua culture farms like shrimp farms and the like, people who fishing for a living, people who fishing for a living that’s the intention. If you are a fisherman you’re allowed to go and earn for your profession but just to go on a leisure like that that’s not covered in the legislation. Some people asked me “So we can’t go to sand bar Sunday ?” No you’re not fishing and you’re not moving for a purpose that is essential.”
Up to late yesterday, one of the areas up in the air was construction work. In the end, it made its way on the list of essential services as well as ports and cargo transportation/delivery.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “Construction and construction sites, private and commercial some of these we’ve put them in because they’re contained on one site with the proper social distancing and people have their materials and everything already on site if you can control it you go there and you work; that has been deemed essential and you can stay the three feet the social distancing and everything must be in place on those sites. Port operations and services connected with the loading and unloading of ships and aircraft, delivery at and from ports. So ports will still operate, cargo can still come in and everything related to the cargo so you’re talking about brokers who may be needed for the cargo but if you’re a broker and you’re going to the customs office because you have a job to go and do then you can go but if you’re a broker it doesn’t mean that you can just hang around the city waiting for a job; No, you have a job you go and you go back home. Waste disposal and sanitation companies and auxiliary personnel. Naturally you’re home more, you’re producing more garbage it is essential that waste disposal and sanitation companies be allowed to open from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.”
Under the regulations, there are businesses who are restricted in their opening hours including convenience stores and meat shops. Interestingly, manufacturers of carbonated beverages somehow managed to make it on this list of essential services.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “From 8:00 a.m to 7:00 p.m now these businesses are not deemed to be opened as early as these other ones so these will start at a later time; Pharmacies, convenience stores, food stores, supermarkets, meat shops, butcher, distributors and factories of carbonated beverages, including spirits (excluding portable water) and food because we already covered potable water from the previous one – they can start from 5:00 a.m. Financial institutions including banks, credit unions, money lending institutions, money transfer institutions, pawn shops they’re allowed to open from 8 -7. Hotels, villas and other rental accommodations.”
With the Easter holidays coming up, Attorney General Peyrefitte indicated that you would still be allowed to travel to the cayes or any tourist destination within the country. He spoke on this as well as the fact that hotels and resorts will be open during the state of emergency.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “If you’re staying at a hotel on Glover’s Reef naturally that hotel will more than likely provide the transport for you to go to Glover’s Reef; so you have to get on a boat, how else are you going to get there? If you’re staying at a hotel in San Pedro you have to get there either by plane or water taxi, in those cases then clearly you will have to be allowed to enter into a vessel that would take you straight to that hotel. So if you plan to still go somewhere for Easter – which we strongly discourage- but if you’re opening hotels we have to allow you to book it and go. You go to a hotel in San Pedro that’s open, the boat will have to take you directly to that hotel, you immediately go onto the property of that hotel and stay there for the entire stay until your time has terminated for you to stay.
Host: And your hotel would be obligated to ensure that you have –
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “That you have enough food, you have guests and you can handle the guests and now this is where if you’re staying at a hotel and they offer diving services or whatever then you would have to go as an extension that you could enjoy once you’re staying at the hotel because the hotel is opened. So if you want to go fishing you have to be associated with an establishment that is licensed to do that and that can also make sure that certain guidelines are in place because that way we can hold the hotel responsible.”
While markets will be allowed to continue vending under the state of emergency, Peyrefitte notes that some adjustments would have to be made in terms of space and maintaining social distance.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: Markets, agricultural produce, fish, meats – and markets may have to move because then they have to maintain that distance; the Belmopan market is an excellent example at the show grounds. Service of takeout or drive through facility only at restaurants, saloons, diners and other similar establishments only could take out food. International delivery services via international delivery service providers; DHL, Federal Express, AmeriJet the like related strictly to medical supplies and equipment so that pretty shirt and that pretty pants that you needed put that on pause for thirty days. If you need medical supplies that will be allowed to be shipped because those are essential. Domestic delivery service relate strictly to meals, groceries, medical supplies and equipment -we recommend this. If you could call the hardware stores, if you could call the grocery store, if you could call anything that’s providing an essential service and they can deliver it to you and save you from having to leave the premises then that’s perfect, we’re allowing people to do that. Mechanic shops, garages and auto part stores; they will be open for you to check because just in case we need to move for some reason we can move. Wholesalers, and this is interesting, wholesalers and retailers of services directly related to any approve business. So if you’re a wholesaler you have to be a wholesaler that wholesale products for bakeries, tortilla factories, stuff like that it has to be in relation to what is allowed to be opened.”
Host: So if you’re selling jewelry –
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “Correct. You say “This says wholesale and I sell jewelry wholesale.” yes but that’s not an essential item.”
Host: And if you’re not on the list don’t bother calling the ministry. Stay closed.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “You can’t open. It’s been signed the proclamation has been made and signed by the Governor General, of course it can be changed but for now if you’re not on the list we’re sorry you cannot open. Period.”
Also appearing on the list of essential services are hardware stores. Peyrefitte says this decision was based on a social aspect. Also included was the Belize Zoo at mile 29 on the George Price Highway.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “Hardware stores- this was the trickiest one but at the end of the day the hardware stores remain on the list of essential services. We figure you will need , if you have the construction site open, if you’re doing work, if you’re allowing certain mechanic shops and places to be open then hardware stores should be open to make stuff available. And then not only that too it’s a social aspect of the entire shut down, you’re home for an extended period of time, it might be your only chance to have the time to put up a picture, assemble something, we want you to be able to go to the hardware store, pick up a small piece of tool or whatever and go back home – straight to get what you want and go back home and if you can utilize the delivery service as we said before utilize it so you don’t have to leave the home. The Belize Zoo and the Tropical Education Centre and any research undertaken or being done. The Belize Zoo is already closed to the public, they usually close for a period of time during the year but they’re closed now however there people still need to go and feed the animals and maintain the place and do research and so we’re allowing the Belize Zoo to be open for their employees to go there during the prescribed time where they can tend to the animals, do their research as it relates to the zoo and then head back home; thankful for them they have their own transportation that takes them to the zoo and back home so we had to look out for the zoo which is certainly a national treasure.”
There will be establishments that will be allowed to operate for a 24-hour period. Despite this clearance from the authorities, Peyrefitte says it is not a pass for the curfew.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “Certain things will be allowed to operate for 24 hours. Mills, sugar, citrus and other approved food production factories, oil production and drilling for oil exploration. Now, this is an excellent example of what I said about the curfew. If the citrus factory will be going for twenty four hours however once eight o’clock comes everybody must stay in the factory you understand me? So if you have your workers have the shift start at eight and finish at five, so not because you’re allowed to operate for twenty four hours it means you can be on the street for twenty four hours, it means that you must be in the compound for twenty four hours. So shops have to shut seven, the mills can operate twenty four hours but come eight o’clock everybody must be in the mill. Oil production and drilling for oil exploration same concept you must be on the site once eight o’clock comes.”
The entire list can be viewed on the Government’s website and the Government’s Press Office Facebook Page. Love News will continue reaching out to the Attorney General for an appearance on our COVID-19 Update Show and will keep you posted accordingly.