Belize’s tourism industry which was seeing some level of resuscitation will now possibly be further impacted due to the new US quarantine regulations. US President Joe Biden have been signing several executive orders since he took office. Among them is the Covid-19 order that now mandates the use of masks in America, as well as mandatory quarantine for those entering the US.
Joe Biden, President of the United States of America: “Mask up for the first hundred days, the next ninety nine days, the mask could become a partisan issue unfortunately but it’s a patriotic act but for a few months to wear a mask no vaccines the fact is that they’re the single best thing we can do they’re more important than the vaccines because they take time to work and if we do this as Americans the experts say by wearing a mask from now until April we’d save more than fifty thousand lives going forward; fifty thousand lives. So I’m asking every American to mask up for the next hundred days. Yesterday I signed an executive action that requires masks and social distancing on federal property. Today we’ll be signing an additional executive action to extend masking requirements on interstate travel like on trains, planes and buses and in light of the new COVID variants that we’re learning about we are instituting now a new measure for individuals flying into the United States from other countries. In addition to wearing masks everyone flying to the United States from another country will need to test before they get on that plane before they depart and quarantine when they arrive in America.”
Ted Tejada of the Belize Hotel Association has expressed concerns over the new quarantine regulations in the United States as several reservations are already being cancelled by those wishing to avoid the mandatory quarantine upon their return to the United States.
Ted Tejada, President, Belize Hotel Association: “When this news was broken we started to see a flood of cancellations because people thought “Oh Belize, small country like Belize they cannot do that.” But immediately there was the task force tourism committee we started communicating and the chairman and the minister immediately tasked us to find solutions and as of yesterday afternoon we had told the airlines we do have a solution, we will be providing the test. We’ve been telling our guests have have been calling concerning the same “if it’s possible.” , we are telling them yes it’s possible. Now we’re trying even to find a wider solution where we will have the practitioner coming to the hotel to administer the test. Actually we heard this let’s say one week ago we were aware that they were looking at that and we immediately went into action last week when we were advised that it could be a possibility. The only concern we had was if it’s a rapid test or a PCR test. Yesterday we understand that it is a rapid test, we contacted the airlines- American Airlines, United- and they did inform us that it is going to be a negative rapid test. It is good that the government as soon as they took over they started to give some approved licenses for private entities to be able to do the testing. As you are aware prior to it it was only the government institution or the laboratory that had the technology to do it. At this moment we are aware of several private entities who have a permit to do the testing.”
An article from Reuters stated that already a group representing the US travel industry has opposed the quarantine since the mandatory testing requirements could prove sufficient. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a seven-day quarantine for passengers arriving in the United States. U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday issued an executive order directing agencies to require international air travelers to quarantine upon U.S. arrival, and directed U.S. agencies to implement a federal mask mandate in interstate transportation. U.S. Travel Chief Executive Roger Dow said Friday the group does not think making testing mandatory before domestic travel “feasible or viable” and questions if the United States has the testing capacity. Biden’s order says “to the extent feasible” air travelers must comply with applicable CDC guidelines concerning international travel “including recommended periods of self-quarantine”.