The protocols at the Phillip Goldson International Airport have been tweaked several times since its re-opening on October first. Several protocols and guidelines were put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the eradication of imported cases. Kennedy Carrillo, Chief Executive Officer at the Ministry of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation told Love News that the preliminary recommendations thus far has seen a smoother and quicker passage at the PGIA.
Kennedy Carrillo, Chief Executive Officer , Ministry of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation: “On the 17th of December Cabinet made the decision to establish a committee that would be responsible for assessing the situation at the Philip Goldson International Airport and making recommendations specifically as it related to the standard procedures for the arrival of passengers. At this point Prime Minister John Briceno appointed Minister Andre Perez, Minister for Civil Aviation and Blue Economy, to be the chairperson for this committee. Minister Perez of course brought together a very instrumental committee because it included key ministries such as the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Immigration as well as the Belize Airport Concession Company and the Belize Tourism Board, all of these being very important to the processes that take place at the Philip Goldson International Airport. And so two days after Minister Perez was appointed as the chairperson he had established his committee and we went to the Philip Goldson International Airport that Saturday because it was the first time since COVID that we were gonna be receiving eleven flights. And so it was a very important visit where we had an opportunity to observe the arrival of eight of these flights, to follow the passengers from the moment when they left the aircraft up until they went through the different steps and the committee that was there had the opportunity to observe what were some of the great changes that have come about because of the new standard procedures as well as to identify some gaps that can be addressed through recommendations. One of the changes to the protocol is that passengers were now allowed to present results of PCR tests that have been taken up to ninety six hours as well as rapid tests that could be taken up to forty eight hours before travelling to Belize. This was something new and really it did provide an opportunity for us to observe that the persons who had not done their rapid test and their PCR needed to go through the process of getting themselves swabbed and it was interesting for us to note that the process itself now with the different requirements the process was a lot quicker. We know for example that passengers are now allowed to test and then leave for immigration and customs and whenever their test results are found to be positive then there is a particular system to track theses persons at the hotels based on the information that they have provided, evidence that they have provided and this in itself again has also expedited the process. I must say that for us it was very interesting to note that of the eleven flights that arrived on that day there were zero positive cases identified and that is very important indicator. In addition to that passengers who bring their PCR tests will not be required any more to register their travel via the health app; again something that expedites the process.”
With the revised protocols, there has also been an increase in the number of flights coming in. On December 19, the PGIA saw the arrival of eleven flights. Carrillo stated that this is a good note for the boosting of Tourism in the country.
Kennedy Carrillo, Chief Executive Officer , Ministry of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation: “The number of flights that are coming into the country now are increasing and this is good as it relates to boosting our tourism sector and trying to get it going again the way that we were before COVID. Obviously this has to happen with a lot of caution and this is why much time and money has been invested to ensure that we have the procedures in place at the Philip Goldson International Airport to protect us from any opportunities whereby the virus could be brought into the country even though we know that it’s here very much present but also recognizing that that is one avenue through which the virus can come into the country and so the procedures that have been put in place, the mechanisms, the investments that have been made are to ensure that we are at the standards of the different health regulatory mechanisms that advise on how we should proceed with our protocols to protect our country. And as I said it’s very interesting to note that of the number of persons that are coming into the country and the number of persons, thousands of persons that are being tested the number of positives continue to be low.”