Concerns are also mounting in the tourism industry as we have reported an increase in hotel cancellations. Prime Minister addressed this concern referencing a recent report given to him by the Director of the Belize Tourism Board, Karen Bevans.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “The Director of Tourism the BTB she just explained to me that regarding the cancellations that the hotels are already experiencing 33% of all bookings for hotels in this country, 33% is done through Expedia and just today Expedia told the BTB that they are seeing a 35% cancellations for Belize hotels. That is a big enough sample clearly to give an indication of the kind of the kind of impact this thing is already happening. That’s why I said we are in no rush to talk about cancelling flights already the industry is taking a pounding, if this continues as I said there will be no need to cancel flights because nobody will be coming. In terms of cruise ships because again that’s very important there are people who say cancel the cruise ships, again we didn’t agree with that because as the BTB director told me they got in touch with the Caribbean Tourism Organization who forwarded what the WHO is saying with respect to cruise that there is an insistence and that it appears from monitoring that the cruise lines are cooperating on these measures: there is prescreening of everyone before embarkation on a cruise ship, any guest who bought a ticket to go to any of the WHO hotspots the countries that we know are danger zones, any such guest is prohibited from cruising and their tours are cancelled before they can reach any port. Anyone who identifies with flu like symptoms is not allowed on board, infrared screening temperature testing is done and if it is the slightest bit high the result is a slightest big high such a person is not allowed on board. Every terminal is fogged with fumigants before and after a sailing itinerary. All screening is abided by with respect to staff and operators. Staff that are from countries of concern are placed in isolation before they’re allowed on board. Those who have been on board have not returned to their homes, if you’re working in the states and you’re from Italy and you had joined a cruise line and had been working on board a ship you’re not allowed to go back home, their contracts have been extended. There’s enhance cleaning procedures and of course there’s the fact that the President of the United States has banned all travel from Europe so nobody from the hotspots can come to Belize via cruise ships that originate from the US, they would have to get to the US first to get on those cruise ships so apart from the fact that the screening would disallow them they simply can’t get to the US now with President Trump’s ban. So with all those measure again we felt that the time had certainly not come given the impact that it will have, the time had not yet come for us to ban cruise ships.”
With multiple sectors being impacted by the arrival of the COVID-19 virus, there is a high possibility of people losing their jobs and source of income. Prime Minister spoke on this matter citing the possibility of sickness benefits from the Social Security Board among other options.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “Before I came here I went to do a walk through of the isolation unit, I’m going to address the second portion of what you asked and I am pretty satisfied with the flow of that isolation unit. I think the Karl Heusner team CEO has been in constant communication with my desk in terms of how that has been restructured, I know that the PAHO team was there yesterday and they went through their checklist and I understand that there was one glitch that was missing from that flow of patients- when we did the walk through apparently that has already been taken care of. I mean I probably shouldn’t say because hospitals don’t look good, I can maybe say that because I am a doctor but I am pretty satisfied with the way it looks, I walked it with Dr.Habet and CEO Hoare. In terms of the workers union I believe they made a statement yesterday I didn’t really catch what they said; my desk as Director of Health Services has not been approached by the workers union to address any concern and I don’t know from what I gather I don’t know if they have been at the planning meetings with the Karl Heusner Management team.”