Belize has postponed the reopening of its Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. The airport was previously scheduled to reopen on August 15 for chartered flights, private aviation and international leisure travel with approved hotels only. Prime Minister Rt. Dean Barrow, who made the announced at a press conference on Aug. 5, said that although the airport will not reopen, the weekly repatriation flights for Belizean nationals abroad will continue; this includes the 14-day mandatory quarantine and health screening upon arrival.
On August 6, Belize broke its largest single-day coronavirus case tally for the 2nd time this week – recording 28 new cases within 24 hours – taking the national total to 114; Belize recorded 66 new cases so far this week. “The numbers continue to be rather extensive as we move along…there are many sporadic cases beginning to pop up,” said Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services, who spoke at the virtual press conference. First and foremost, Belize is committed to the health of her people. The opening of the airport will be announced at a later date. Three districts in Belize are now under lockdown in an overabundance of caution, for the mitigation of possible community spread.
Although postponed, Belize continues to prepare for a reopening
Upon reopening, Belize will have put in place several new safety measures that include a Tourism Gold Standard program and a Health App to give travelers added peace of mind during their vacation.
“As the official destination marketing organization for the country, the safety and comfort of our visitors and residents are of utmost priority for the Belize Tourism Board (BTB). We are continually assessing risks and working with our partners to create protocols; to ensure a safe environment for residents and guests when international visitation resumes.”
– The Belize Tourism Board in a recent statement
The Tourism Gold Standard program is a nine-point system meant to enhance the country’s health and safety standards across hotels, restaurants and tour operators. These include mandatory face masks, social distancing, contactless guest solutions, and enhanced room cleaning; staff and guests will also have health checks and reduced capacity. Hotels that have achieved the Tourism Gold Standard will be the first to reopen. Although Belize has not set a reopening date yet, visitors will only be able to visit tourism sites with an approved Tourism Gold Standard tour operator during Phase 3 of its Travel Reopening Plan.