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Governor General signs proclamation for State of Emergency

Governor-General, His Excellency Sir Colville Young signed the State of Emergency Proclamation just before two o’clock this afternoon.  The signed proclamation now makes it very official that Belize will be entering into a State of Emergency at midnight tonight. 

Governor-General, His Excellency Sir Colville Young signed the State of Emergency Proclamation just before two o’clock this afternoon.  The signed proclamation now makes it very official that Belize will be entering into a State of Emergency at midnight tonight.  While we tried getting in touch with Attorney General, Michael Peyrefitte for clarifications on the regulations issued today, we had to resort to using excerpts from an interview he did with a production company owned by the Prime Minister’s CEO.  We start with the proclamation and what it means for the entire country.

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte Minister of National Security: “The regulation shall apply to the entire country of Belize. Remember we had a set of regulations for San Pedro? Now that has been put aside, suspended, and replaced with this one to ensure that we only have one set of regulations for the entire country. A curfew is hereby imposed during the hours of 8:00 p.m. until 4:59 a.m. of the following morning for the entire country of Belize during the period of public emergency declared by the proclamation. The order and the regulations come into effect midnight tonight. So as of 12:01 we are in an official curfew. The same curfew that will apply from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. in certain circumstances for the entire rest of the thirty day period.”

As noted by Peyrefitte, the State of Emergency is complemented with a curfew for every resident.  He added that the curfew applies to everyone including those who work under an essential service.

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte Minister of National Security: I want to come back to that curfew period because I want to state from now so you can start to understand it not because you are an essential worker or not because you provide essential services means that you will be allowed to be out and about during the curfew period. A person shall not loiter, wander, assemble or otherwise move in any public place and on any public road during the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 7:59p.m. So from 8:00 p.m. to 4:59 a.m. you have  a complete and 100% curfew but still between 5:00 a.m. and 7:59 p.m. everyday you can’t just as we Kriol would say “Deh bout the place di bossy flop.” – you have to be moving for the next thirty days. Beginning midnight tonight you have to be moving with a purpose and the regulations tell you specifically what those purposes are. During the period of public emergency section 5 (2) “A person’s right to move in any public place and on any public road during the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 7:59 p.m” – you’re moving with a purpose – “is hereby restricted for the purpose of (a) purchasing essential needs.”‘- Somebody told me “Well suppose I need to buy a pretty shirt, that is essential to how I feel.” listen to me, please don’t let us wrangle we all know what is essential; medicine, food, water that is what is essential or whatever it is that is allowed but if you’re out and as of 5:00 a.m. tomorrow and 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night you have to be out to purchase essential needs, attending for medical or veterinary attention, emergencies medical emergencies. We ask you if you have a slight headache or a pain between your toes that’s not the reason to have to go to a doctor, you could wait it’s not a medical emergency.”

Under the list of healthcare and public health sub-category, those who will be authorized to operate will be private and public medical facilities including home health aides and home care workers as well as funeral homes, cemetery caretakers, mortuary personnel, 911 dispatchers, paramedics, and ambulance drivers.  Peyrefitte noted that while those who take care of the elderly or have to be back and forth, they too have to abide by the hours.

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte Minister of National Security: “If you work at a place where and you work for somebody who is sick, elderly, can’t help themselves at home or whatever you’re allowed to go straight to work and straight back home between the hours of five in the morning and eight at night or 7:59 . If 8:15 catches you in the house because you had to help the elderly person or the sick person then you just simply have to stay there for the night. So plan your days properly to ensure that if you live half an hour away then leave 7:15 because come eight o’clock it will be enforced – the curfew because you will have some complaints, and you already have it, of word of businesses that will be open people are saying “Well if you’re opening all those places this is not a lock down.” So yes I can agree with you to a certain extent and it’s not a full fledged, full breach lock down during the day but at night it will be so people need to understand that. Now, an essential worker acting within the scope of his duties , and of course when we say his we mean her as well , including but not limited to security guards patrolling whether on food or by conveyance, agricultural or factorial workers or other similar operations requiring the movement of personnel for the effective conduct of the business or operations. We’re asking everybody adjust to meet the times. Come 8:00 p.m we want your security guards to be in place at the place of work come 8:00 p.m so that their shift can be made from 8:00 p.m to 5:00 a.m if possible so that for the purpose of the curfew you’re not en route from work or to home when you can be there. So if you have security company, if you hire security guards make the adjustments to ensure that shifts go from 8:00 p.m at night to 5 a.m in the morning that way when they’re going to home or to work they’re within the non curfew hours. Everybody remember has to make a sacrifice. I was speaking to the Prime Minister this morning I said number one office of the Prime Minister you’re the Prime Minister what business you have to be on the street after eight ? You’re out after eight and the police meet you they will arrest you sir because you don’t business out there after eight, no exceptions. Unless you have a badge there is no exceptions but the point I’m trying to make is this, not because you are an essential worker means that you have a right to be out there after eight between 8:00 p.m and 5:00 a.m you will be charged unless you have a badge.”

As was indicated by the Prime Minister yesterday, several businesspersons have been asking to be placed on the list of essential services.  The State of Emergency, however, would prove futile if the government goes outside the scope of essential services.  According to Attorney General Peyrefitte, sacrifices have to be made and time management is key.

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte Minister of National Security: “We can’t have our cake and eat it too, right ? People have been screaming for a shut down so now when we’re shutting down everybody wants an exception. “Shut down the country. Just not my business.” we can’t have that man, everybody has to pay a price for the shutdown. It can’t be that people are asked to close their business, shut down their place of operation but others operate freely when they’re not really essential or it’s not essential for them to operate at that time. Do not do that because if eight o’clock comes you have to sleep in the shop. Get out early and do your stuff early because if you have to be home at eight and the shop is allowed to be opened until seven, nothing stops you from saying listen to me you close six o’clock today so we can do our stock taking and we can bring our books up to par and we are out of there by seven so we can get home by eight; manage your time, manage your chores what you have to do because some eight o’clock the curfew will be strictly enforced.`”