Parliamentarians gathered in Belmopan today for a special sitting of the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, announced that there will be no countrywide lockdown, nor will there be one for the Orange Walk District. He went on to say that the country cannot afford another lockdown due to the negative economic impacts it will have.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “I and those with whom I’ve consulted including the members last night by telephone of the National Oversight Committee do not feel that it is anywhere close to being a situation where we must think in terms of locking down the entire country. Madam Speaker we know that we’re still from an economic point of view reeling from the last lock down both the private sector, businesses throughout the private sector they’re experiencing severe hardships as a consequence of the interruption and where government is concerned the revenue collapse continues. Contrary to what one radio station said last night we are not locking down the Orange Walk district. I had a quick chat with the Leader of the Opposition this morning with whom I try to keep in close contact and I think he’s supportive of that decision not to lock down the Orange Walk district. Of course the villages that are already on lock down will continue and later on you’ll see what we’re moving a motion to extend the state of emergency generally giving us the ability to prolong the lock downs in Ambergris Caye, in Guinea Grass, Shipyard, in Santa Martha. So to that extent intra district travel is limited in Orange Walk but again this business of preventing movement across the district lines so that nobody from outside of Orange Walk can enter the district, nobody from Orange Walk can leave the district that is not at the present time.”
While there won’t be any lockdown as yet, there will be stricter regulations under the current State of Emergency. The new curfew will be from 8pm to 5am on weekdays whereas on weekends it will be from 10pm to 5am. The Prime Minister said that the full breakdown will be explained tomorrow night by the Attorney General, Michael Peyrefitte on Ask the experts.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “The Attorney General and his solicitor general are still drafting and of course we will hear from the AG I believe tomorrow night at 8pm on Ask the Experts – I think that’s the highest rated television show in this country – but on a serious note Madam Speaker what we will do is everything remains as is in the areas that are under quarantine, to repeat Ambergris Caye and the particular villages in the Orange Walk district. Countrywide now we will change the curfew hours to go back to weekday curfews starting at 8pm and of course ending at 5am the next morning. Weekends, two days, we will extend the curfew hours so that curfew will start at 10pm and of course end at 5am. Again Madam Speaker we’re doing this to indicate that we take what is happening very seriously, we’ve got to put in these additional measures but we do not want to go overboard because we don’t want to heighten the sense of alarm – legitimate – the sense of panic even on the part of our people. If all those in particular the border jumpers, the contrabandistas would do their share I’m not saying that we will completely defeat the virus but we’ll get to a point where we can live with it and I know the Leader of the Opposition certainly takes exactly this position we’ve got to find a way to live with this thing until they find a vaccine.”
Standing up to comment about the Government’s approach to the COVID-19 situation was PUP Caribbean Shores Area Representative Kareem Musa. Musa stated that he understands that the country cannot afford another lockdown but something needs to be done to get a grip on the spread of the virus.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Area Representative, Caribbean Shores: “My recommendation would be perhaps for us to consider a very short period of lock down not like the three month before but rather maybe a two week lock down just so that we can get a grip, a handle of the situation because from my understanding the medical practitioners, the health officers are trying to catch up with the disease. They are not able to test all the individuals that are coming and so that is the reason it seems so widespread. So if we can just lock down for a very short period, get a handle of those individuals who do have COVID cases so we can isolate and quarantine them because for the time being we are continuing business as usual and by doing that these asymptomatic individuals are out there in public some of them are not wearing masks so we have to be in a position to say we have a handle of it, we’ve caught up to the disease, these are the numbers and I know Mr.Prime Minister that in two weeks even if we lock down the numbers are still gonna be high that’s just natural and logical that that’s gonna be the case and I’m not saying that we should continue to lock down even though the numbers are high I’m just saying let us try to catch up with the disease and if we’re able to catch up with it then we can isolate those individuals.”