Hours prior to today’s press conference rumors circulated that the country would be shutting down and a national state of emergency would be declared. At the opening of his address this afternoon the Prime Minister made it clear that this is not the case.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: We’re not announcing a national shut down, we’re not announcing the declaration of a state of emergency. So I want to make clear to the people of this country that it may yet come to that, if it does we will give some notice and in any event since that is at the very least a possibility and I would go so far as to say a likelihood depending on how things evolve. I need to make clear right at the start that if we got to that point it would not mean that every last little thing would be locked down; there would be no need for people to rush the super markets, there would be no need for any run on the banks financial institutions, supermarkets, grocery stores, all those things would remain open. People would be asked to stay in place as much as possible, go out and do what you have to do with respect to your essential needs and then return home because that is the best way in which to be safe but please if we reach that point there is not going to be any need to panic. The essentials of life will have to continue and the National Task Force is in fact coming up with the road map as to how the logistics will operate in the context of a national shut down. So let me stress that if we reach to that point please do not panic and please be assured that with respect to the essentials life will continue in as normal a way as possible. To repeat again, supermarkets, pharmacies, banks will remain open- of course they would be required to follow the protocols of minimizing close contact between persons. Again just as we actively discourage price gouging so should consumers not act selfishly and buy large quantities of products we just, the Ministry of Agriculture, had a virtual meeting yesterday with producers, the Leader of Opposition’s representative the Honorable Abelardo Mai participated in that meeting but before that they minister briefed the cabinet and we have on hand a plentiful supply of essential food stuff of the necessaries of everyday life in terms of being able to feed ourselves so please let me take this opportunity to make those points even though it is in the context of saying there is not a national shutdown taking place today.”
Later on in our news, we will have more from today’s 2 ½ hour press brief including the financial aid that will be rendered to those who are unemployed.