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PGIA process smoother than expected

The Philip Goldson International Airport reopened on Thursday and so far Belize has seen over seven hundred locals and tourists arriving at the airport. Many have commented on their social media that the process at the airport was smooth despite the various new measures in place.

The Philip Goldson International Airport reopened on Thursday and so far Belize has seen over seven hundred locals and tourists arriving at the airport. Many have commented on their social media that the process at the airport was smooth despite the various new measures in place. According to Dr Marvin Manzanero, there will be a meeting to tweak any issue they have identified within the process.

Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “We have had a good amount of persons I would say almost 50% or more of persons that have arrived be either tourists or Belizeans have brought in a PCR so that’s made the process much more smoother for us at the airport. We did manage to pick up a person yesterday through one of the rapid tests at the airport that person went into hotel quarantine in Belize City yesterday and that person is awaiting for a PCR test that’s going to be done later on in the day. We have done the preliminary reports, there was another flight that arrived today there would be no flights Tuesday and Wednesday so tomorrow we have an internal meeting with all the team members to see what we need to tweak, what we need to modify to make the process even smoother. I can tell you that I had anticipated that we were going to take longer to clear both flights I mean we were thinking of five almost six hours to clear both flights but for example on Saturday I think that by two o’clock within two and a half hours of the last flight having landed they had cleared both planes and on both days we had more than 200 people arriving on Friday and Saturday so I think it’s a collective effort that is taken out by teams from all levels tourism, immigration, customs, Ministry of Health staff, BTB I think it’s a very cohesive approach but it still needs to be tweaked further because you want to ensure that there’s a smoother process.”

Two returning residents, Ronald and Tamara Sniffin, owners of The San Pedro Sun Newspaper, documented their experience at the PGIA to give future guests a firsthand look at the process.

Ronald Sniffin, Owner, San Pedro Sun:So if you’re travelling to Belize be prepared to have maybe a hiccup when you’re checking in at your first destination. We flew out of Denver and it took over an hour for the agents to get us permission to fly on down through Houston on to Belize. The issue was Belize International Airport was changing their requirements one day after another so they were looking at old information even to the point where at one point they said we still needed to have a COVID test before getting on the plane. Fortunately they were able to find the right information and we were cleared to fly out of Denver. Now we’re Houston we’re waiting to get on the flight to Belize. All passengers had to wear their mask on the entire flight except for when taking a drink or a bite of their snack. Finally we’re back  on the ground in Belize but for the first time in this COVID environment. Once on the ground airport staff made sure social distancing was followed. There were multiple checkpoints and health stations. The country of Belize requires that all passengers download and install the Belize Travel Health app. One hiccup for me was that I could not log back into the app once I completed it so follow this tip; once you initially get your QR code do a screen capture so that you have a copy of it in your photos on your phone. To help identify the difference between Belizeans and visitors tourists are given a yellow wrist  band to help the process of identifying those who must follow different protocols while in the country. If you do have a COVID test within seventy tour hours of your trip it can fast track the process once you arrive. Since we did not have  COVID test prior to our trip we were required to get one at the airport. It was the nasal swab type and although uncomfortable not unbearable. We were then escorted to a waiting room to get our results which took about thirty five minutes. Thank goodness our tests were negative so we were able to proceed to baggage claim then customs. It was fascinating to see the Belize international airport partitioned off and social distancing protocols in place. We then caught another flight to San Pedro and after over six months we’re back home happy to quarantine ten days before venturing back out into the community. We can’t wait to get back into our country and our world back to normal.”

Director of Tourism at the Belize Tourism Board, Karen Bevans, stated that she is encouraged by the positive feedback.