The curfew hours have been shortened and a time limit has been placed on this new round of the Covid-19 regulations. The announcement by the Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa came today during a virtual press conference where he outlined where some changes were being made effective Monday, February 1.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs & New Growth Industries: “Not all regulations are being modified, only some. Curfew is now going to be from 10pm to 5am. So it’s no longer going to be 8pm. Curfew starting February 1st Monday will be at 10pm and will go to the following morning until 5am. This curfew applies to adults only. The 10pm curfew applies to adults only. The curfew for minors continues in effect from 6pm until 5am the following morning. So the curfew for minors remains in place while the curfew for adults is now 10pm to 5am. Gyms can now open and they are to operate at a 50% capacity at any given time. Gyms must, like restaurants, be properly ventilated. Gym owners have an added responsibility that they are required to keep a log of the name, contact number and temperature of persons who are attending the gym. So this responsibility of logging this information falls on the gym owners and gym operators to take this information. Attendance at the gym must be by appointment only. Churches can now operate, can now open to the public and the capacity likewise for churches is 50% at any given time. In addition to that the service we are asking by regulation that the service does not go beyond one hour in time. Food vendors are allowed to operate without the need to be on private property so you can operate at different locations not necessarily on private property. I want to remind food vendors however of the regulations which speak to setting up markers around your vending station. So this applies to all businesses when individuals and customers are going into a business there are six feet markers that are outside of businesses and we are asking food vendors to do the same so that they customers of the food vendor can maintain six feet distance from each other. The sale of liquor has been extended so there’s no longer the 6 P.M. requirement but now it is 10 P.M. Let me make this very clear like I said that only pertains to restaurants and shops. If your shop license says that you can only sell alcohol until 9pm that doesn’t mean you can take advantage of the new regulations and sell until 10 P.M, absolutely not. So if your shop license is 9 P.M that is the cut off time for selling alcohol. Bars, casinos, night clubs, all of those remain closed so none of those businesses are allowed to operate during the term of these regulations. So again it is simply to allow restaurants and shops to be able to sell up until 10 P.M the ending of the curfew. Sou cannot sell alcohol after 10 P.M because there’s a curfew in any event.”
Aside from the curfew and the loosening of some of the other restrictions, those in the north have been eagerly awaiting the lifting of the inter-district travel restrictions. The lift came today along with a confirmation of the opening of the Corozal Free Zone on Monday.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs & New Growth Industries: “The Corozal Free Zone will be reopened and the Board of Directors of the Corozal Free Zone are to ensure that there are temperature checks of every person entering the Corozal Free Zone and that that temperature check is taken and logged. The restriction of movement between the Corozal and Orange Walk districts has been removed and so there is no longer this restrictive movement at least not as of February first, that is not to say that we will not have to come back in the near future if there is a spike in any district not just Corozal and Orange Walk. In any district if there is a spike we might very well have to come back to the Belizean people and we might have to put in stricter regulations. I understand where we are today and it is a very seesaw, roller coaster situation and there is always this tug of war between health and business. We understand that, we hear the cry particularly from the tourism sector San Pedro, Caye Caulker and Placencia we are winding down on the high season in those locations and so we hear the cry that we would want to have the curfew adjusted to 10 P.M. and so we understand that but we have to be mindful when we look at Jamaica and Barbados those other jurisdictions are locking down and so it is incumbent on us. We are getting somewhat of a relaxation of the measures and so while it is that many are able to appreciate that we also have to be mindful that this thing can like I said have a seesaw effect and it can go up quickly in which case I am sure the Ministry of Health and Wellness will take very swift action.”
The Government is now implementing a ticketing system, and have lowered the penalty for going against the regulations. Minister Musa explained that the system is in response to the crowding at the court house for those who are caught in contravention.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs & New Growth Industries: “On the last occasion of the House of Representatives and the National Assembly we had proposed the issuing of violation tickets. As you know under the previous quarantine regulations members of the public were subjected to being detained if they were not wearing their masks or if they were breaching other parts of the regulation, they were taken to the police station, they were processed, they were told to return to court the following day and that resulted in an overcrowding not just of the police station but also of the courthouse. And so we saw where that in itself could be a potential super spreader and hence the reason we decided to move in the direction of the issuing of tickets for offences. And so these new regulations under the Public Health Safety Act provide for the issuance of violation tickets for breaches of regulations for which pertains to the curfew. So if you’re out after 10 P.M and you are caught you will be ticketed and you will be fined $500. The wearing of masks is also a violation that is ticketable. Social distancing protocols, now I know over the last few months some of us may have gotten a little relaxed when we’re out in public, again please be mindful that we are to remain six feet apart from each other and if you are not practicing social distancing when you are out of your house you can be ticketed so please be mindful of that.”