Several new measures are being put into place as at Saturday midnight which will see restrictions on the movements of residents as well as the operations of businesses. One such measure is the curfew which has been adjusted to 9pm each night.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “There’s not going to be any flexibility on weekends. You remember the current regime is curfew from 8pm to 5am and on weekends from 10pm to 5am. Now curfew will be uniformed throughout the week, each and every day the same and the curfew hours will be from 9pm until 5am. We’ve gone from 8 to 9 because there are people who work for example in Belize City and live in Corozal and who commute every day. Even when they take perhaps the last bus and they do get into Corozal Town perhaps just before the start of curfew but if they then have to travel from the bus depot to some of the surrounding villages it’s a tight squeeze for them to get in under the start time of the curfew. That is the only reason for going from 8 to 9pm so that we can better accommodate those people who do that kind of daily cross country commute. We’re going to ensure that essential and emergency workers will be allowed to move about during curfew hours as we’ve always done. Recollect that we will achieve this by way of two devices there will be a listing of essential activities but it’s always very hard to exhaustively compile the kind of enumeration exercise that will see us not forget some entity.”
The business of beauty salons and the like, as well as private gatherings within the homes will also be affected by the new measures being taken.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “Spas, beauty salons and barber shops operate by appointment only. What we’re trying to get at is that there should be one customer being attended to and no more than one additional customer awaiting services. A point has also been made that there are some barber shops, certainly some beauty salons, where there’s not just one barber or one beautician in attendance at any one time. Well we’ll have to use our commonsense if there are three stations as it were and they’re spread apart then there can be three customers being attended to at the same time by the three attendants. But again those that are waiting depending on the size of the space can maybe go up to three. There’s really a need for a deal of common sense. We’re going to completely prohibit private parties which would include any person from outside of the immediate household of the principal occupant of the house. We’re going to stop all recreational or competitive sporting events. Wedding, no wedding can host more than ten persons other than the bride, the bride groom, the official witnesses and the marriage officer. We’re going to for this period, and we’re talking two weeks as the duration of the new measures. After that two weeks we’re hoping that we would have a handle on this situation and be able to relax and exhale, to breath again. But banquets, balls, receptions no go, those are to be prohibited. Social events, getting together for some kind of interaction attended by libations all that must stop. All ceremonies of public worship in any facility or public place which involves the participation of any member of the general public or a congregation we’re putting a stop to that. We are with respect to funerals ensuring that only ten members of the immediate family and at least one officiant they describe it here the priest or pastor and the mortuary person who has to be in attendance.”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow also announced that among the new measures there will be a ban on fraternal meetings including lodges and social clubs.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “We’re going to stop the meetings of fraternal societies so the lodges – I hear the Minister of Education making not particularly loud noise of protest but I feel for but in any event we have to, if I can borrow a term from the inimitable Attorney General cerrado closed. Likewise with the private or social clubs or civic associations. Now as I indicated earlier what we want to do is to provide for the following businesses to operate 24 hours seven days a week and in many cases these activities operate on a shift system but we want to be clear that the employees of these operations can come to work even during the curfew hours. So food mills of course, sugar, citrus – I’m not sure what’s happening I think the sugar mill is relatively idle because the crop would have ended but just to make assurance doubly sure we’re including sugar, citrus and other approved food production factories. Oil production and drilling for oil exploration, port operations and services connected with the loading and unloading of ships and air craft and delivery to and from ports, public utilities and independent energy producers that provide energy to the public utilities. We want to look carefully at the provisions for penalties for transport operators and businesses who do not take reasonable measures to ensure that their clients adhere to mask wearing, sanitizing before entering premises or the conveyance and that they adhere to social distancing. Now we all saw the water taxis being crammed to overflow, that sort of thing would have to stop. San Pedro is locked off but not Caye Caulker and in terms of the terrestrial transport the buses we want the bus operators we had already done something about the terminal operators but we want the actual bus drivers and conductors to deny entry on the bus to anybody who refuses to wear a mask. We understand that that can be difficult because there are those who in fact will want to give trouble and insist on being let on even if the conductor or the driver tells that person to stop. So we have to draft this very carefully so that we don’t put an onus on the transport operations and business owners, an onus that they can discharge so it the requirement is that they take all reasonable measures to ensure that their client adhere but we don’t want a small grocery store to have to now pay for security so that anybody who comes to give trouble can perhaps be forcibly shown the door. It will take some as I said some fleet footed drafting but it’s necessary to send the signal that we’re very serious about everybody having to assume their share of the responsibility to try get this thing together.”
The country is going back to the closure of dine-in restaurants with only the option of take-outs. Also affected by these new measures are the streetside vendors.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: Unfortunately we’re going to close gyms. I say unfortunately for those who in fact do use gyms, a matter absolutely to be commended in terms of physical health and even mental health. Doesn’t affect me my gym days are long past me that’s not even a receding vision that’s disappeared completely but this one was trick. I know again my colleague the leader elect is an aficionado of the gyms but Dr.Manza informed without of course breaking confidentiality that there was one gym where a trainer who was positive infected a patron. You can’t close one and not close the other so for the two week extension during which these rules will be in effect I’m afraid the gyms will have to close. Restaurants we’re very careful because we don’t want too much to interfere with the economy but again certainly the closed restaurants where as Dr.Manza says there’s the circulation of air without a sort of escape valve if you will can be very dangerous, the air conditioned restaurants for in house dining as it were. We thought about limiting it to open air but again ultimately we came down on the side of only allowing restaurants to operate on a take out, delivery and drive through basis. Part of the problem again you see and this is where the unfairness comes in the god suffer for the bad Dr.Manza complained we need to close bars but in fact under the current SI we have closed bars. What is happening though is that those establishments that have publican special licenses that permit them to sell liquor to be consumed on the premise once food is served, they masquerade as restaurants. You go in you find they put two bowls of peanuts or a tin of Vienna Sausages or something in front of the drinkers and then the carousing goes on uninhibited and they do not observe the ten occupant per facility rule. It brings me to the tacos vendors and the barbecue sellers. Again if you can deliver, if you can have people pick up from your premises that’s best. We do not want to take the livelihood way from the tacos vendor so what we’re going to be saying is you find a parking lot or your find some lot perhaps close to the street but not on the street side we can’t pretend to be serious about what we’re trying to do and allow the crowding of the tacos vendors by people on the street side. Likewise when passengers are travelling on a bus you can’t buy tacos before you get onto the bus and then take off your mask and proceed to be consuming your tacos, and you have to take off your tacos if you’re going to eat on the bus, and there are some of us I don’t know if the Attorney General is a tacos eater but if he were one for example who would be consuming a lot of tacos and so would spend a lot of time unmasked to eat the tacos; so no man stop that, eat your tacos somewhere where you can safely take off your masks not only the public transport where you then expose others. Again all these things I’m not sure how much of all the details the AG can put into the SI but it’s to indicate to people where we’re coming from and to try to ask them to work with us but we’ll also make the effort to put in as much as we possibly can. The question of people at the gas station who go into the snack shops where they sell beer or whatever and who then again take off their masks and take their ease at the counter or whatever and looking to engage in conversation with the attendants while they got off their masks and are drinking their beer that’s the sort of thing we have to ask people to please refrain from if they are to help us to get a handle on this thing.”
The Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte will be on a special edition of Ask The Expert on Saturday night to flesh out the details of these new measures. The measures are to take effect at midnight on Saturday.