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Possible re-opening of the Corozal Free Zone

Authorities are exploring the possible reopening of the Corozal Free Zone in the coming weeks.  A meeting was held yesterday with the recently appointed Chairman Emil Grinage as well as members of the Zone’s Chamber of Commerce and representatives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.  The discussions surrounding the reopening is not surprising as Prime Minister John Briceno had alluded to this a few days before he won the general election.  For reference we take you back to that interview on November 10.

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize:We are making plans as we speak as to how we’re going to be addressing these issues. The issue of COVID as I mentioned this morning we need to change the way we are handling the COVID pandemic at this time. We have to decentralize, we can’t just keep all the testing to be taking place in Belize City where you have to wait seven to eight days before you get a response, we need to use the antigen test, the rapid test as we would say, bring the machine here in Orange Walk so that at most within seventy two hours you could get a test. We need to get more contact tracers so that we can find out where these people are so we can then contain them try to contain and flatten the COVID curve. So there are a number of things that we have to do with that. At the same time we have to talk about the wage bill how we’re going to address it. We’re talking already of how we’re going to be opening up the economy, we have to open up the economy. Thank God there is already a vaccine, it will be a little while a few months next year that we’ll be able to get it in Belize but at least we know that there is something we can look forward to but between now and then we need to ease up the restrictions in the tourism industry. The Gold Standard a number of hoteliers have been complaining that it’s too stringent that they cannot afford to be able to do it the way they have and as you know it’s basic, social distancing, mask at all times and cleaning your hands and cleaning your environment you can generally be fine. I met with the people from the Freezone on Sunday and I told them we’re going to open the Freezone so that they can have a Christmas season. Likewise we have to take the necessary precautions so please we’re not going to be reckless but we have to be bold and we have to be able to say that we’re going to open up. I’ve already told the cattle ranchers that if we win tomorrow Thursday morning they can load up their cattle and they can sell all the cattle they can to Guatemala. These steps are going to start to give that sense of optimism that things are going to happen.”

Yesterday’s meeting, led by Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, Jose Abelardo Mai, discussed the interest of investors within the zone as well as the operation details with a focus on health measures.  Love News understands that details of the meeting will be tabled in Cabinet next week for a decision on the way forward.