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Bye Bye Face Masks

Come Friday, wearing a face mask in open and closed spaces will no longer be a requirement. As we have been reporting the government had been working towards lifting all Covid-19 regulations by the start of April. Minister of Health and Wellness, Kevin Bernard, appeared on The Morning Show this morning confirming that there will be no crowd or social distancing restrictions.

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health & Wellness: Well it’s basically going back to normalcy with the slight restrictions in terms of exit and entry to our country. Otherwise than that, all other issues go back to pre-COVID where there was free movement of people. Bars and clubs can have their events. There can be concerts, I mean that had already been…”

Reporter: No crowd restrictions? None of that? None of those things anymore?

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health & Wellness: “No such restrictions. All we continue to say, Dr. Rene and Troy, is that we continue from a Ministry of Health perspective. Continue to encourage people, however, to practise some of the things that existed. Like I always say to my friends, when I’m outdoors I will still continue to wear my mask. If I am indoor in a location and I feel I am not comfortable, I will wear my mask. That’s me. That’s my choice. The responsibility now lies on you, the individual and we expect that Belizeans continue to remain vigilant of course and at the same time, being responsible.”

In addition to the lifting of most of the restrictions, the ministry will no longer be providing the daily Covid-19 infographic. Health Minister, Kevin Bernard, says the focus of the ministry will be shifting to other areas in the health sector.

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health & Wellness: The daily report that you’ve seen, we have decided to remove that daily video presentation. We will be posting the, on our social media page, however, and our website, the actual numbers but we will only be doing, I think, two days for the week, an actual video presentation. What the Ministry of Health & Wellness will be doing, will start to focus on a lot more, gentlemen, is we want to start to really push the other ailments affecting our country. We want to encourage people to start to eat healthy, to want to live healthy lives. We want to ensure that we bring more awareness to mental health. We bring more awareness to cancer and diabetes and all these things and trying to encourage our Belizean people to do the right things and to live healthy and by doing that, we are able to also help reduce some of the issues that are facing our country at all levels and of course, we feel that a lot of people may not see it as important but we have a big issue in terms of mental health and we have to address that. Our NCDs, you know, so I have our team working very hard. However, we are not going to lose focus of the vaccines and vaccination. So, Dr. Beer and her team, we’ve assembled our team. Recall that we had set out people that were doing the mobile clinics and the mobile testing sites that were out in the different areas in the municipalities. Those persons will be redeployed on the ground to assist with an aggressive campaign on vaccination. We are in discussion with some countries through the Ministry of Foregin Affairs. We have been in discussion in getting some of the paediatric vaccines. We are hoping that we can get those as early as possible and as soon as we get those, we will work with the Ministry of Education. We will work with the parents and this is one of the reasons why we feel we have to go on the ground, sensitise our people more and try to get those ones that are still weighing their options to get vaccinated. I feel, this is my personal opinion, that we have reached that peak in terms of vaccination but, I’m pretty sure with the 5 – 11 age range, we can get to the original target that we had set out as a ministry which is the 70% vaccination.”

The only regulation that will remain in place is the entry and exit at the land borders. For some, the Covid-19 tests will still be required and the vaccination cards will remain mandatory.

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health & Wellness:  “Unvaccinated persons coming into the country whether by land, by air, or by sea will have to present their rapid tests within 48 hours or at PCR test within 72 hours period now that is not in the case for Belizeans. Belizeans 12 years and above requiring to exit the country it must be vaccinated whether by land, air or sea and however we have one slight amendment there where we are going to allow unvaccinated persons who are for serious medical reasons and have a valid medical document that really needs to get out will be able to exit the country in the case that the person is seeking medical attention. In terms of foreigners you know foreigners coming into the country five years and above you must present your rapid test within 48 hours or your PCR tests within 72 hours. Belizeans going across the border all they need to do is to make sure that they have their vaccinations and they will not be required to test coming back in. If the person is not vaccinated arrives to country and does not bring a PCR or rapid test then they are tested at the border point whether at the airport or at the border entry points..”

Again, the lifting of the Covid-19 regulations will take effect at midnight on Thursday, March 31.