The number of new COVID-19 cases recorded on Monday was four hundred and fifty-seven putting the number of active cases at two thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine. Four additional COVID-19 related deaths were recorded on Monday putting the total number of deaths at four hundred and sixty-five. Belize District, in particular, Belize City remains with the highest number of active cases. Orange Walk and Corozal districts remain with the lowest number of active cases with thirty-three and forty-five respectively. Further to the north, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, more than fifty thousand persons have been infected with COVID-19 and more than four thousand COVID-19 related deaths have been recorded. Hundreds of businesses in neighbouring Chetumal have closed down and hundreds of millions of dollars continue to be lost on that side of the border. Operations at the Corozal Free Zone resumed eight months ago and business has been going well. Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise Jose Mai says that the decision to reopen the Free Zone was a good move. Mai says that there has not been any spike of COVID-cases there.
Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise: “Whenever you have a thousand people employed at the Free Zone, when you go from zero people employed to a thousand it has to be a good move. You ask if the investors are satisfied I think they are. They might not be totally happy but they are satisfied that we moved from zero to a thousand people employed and that goods are moving. Can we do better? Of course but COVID has slowed down the entire world . The entire world has slowed down because of COVID so we can’t expect the country to rebound a hundred percent over night. That the Free Zone is selling ? It is, it is selling, there is business going on. Not as it was before COVID but our hope is that it will come back to normal very soon. Any spikes in cases absolutely not, none that I know of. Our protocols are still in place. You still have to abide by the protocols and none of our employees at the Free Zone have had any major problems with COVID. As a matter of fact all are vaccinated and double vaccinated. So that was our priority, vaccinate all the workers at the Free Zone and the casino that is opened that was functioning they only allow vaccinated in there. So I think we are doing fine in the Free Zone. It will be a matter of time before we open the borders I’m certain because COVID is here to stay, we have to live with COVID, we hope and pray that those who are not vaccinated may soon vaccinate themselves so that we can reach herd immunity but a country cannot live with closed borders. At some point we have to open so we are hoping that between now and end of December our vaccination will have increased and that we would then be able to open the borders or free up those who want to travel. In my view if you’re vaccinated you can leave the country and enter without all the bureaucratic protocol, in my view as Minister of Agriculture because trade has to occur.”