It is often forgotten that Britain also dipped its colonial toes into Central America. Belize, once known as “British Honduras”, is found at the base of the Yucatan Peninsula, hugged between Mexico and Guatemala. And as Belize celebrated thirty-nine years of Independence last September, it still is, and remains a less-heralded segment of the region to Europeans and Britons alike. Roughly the size of Wales, Belize blends eco-adventures alongside its UNESCO-attested Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System and a near-blindingly bright shoreline of the Caribbean Sea. This winter, here’s how Britons can safely enjoy the Caribbean nation of Belize with no quarantine on arrival.
After all, the UK Telegraph recaps it best by saying bite-size Belize has long been overshadowed by the neighboring Mexico to the north and the Caribbean to the east. While direct flights across the pond in Europe is not (yet) available, more routes arise for how to get to Central America’s corner of the Commonwealth. Mainly, connecting with routes through Latin America. While AeroMexico was one of the 12 international carriers offering direct flights from Mexico City (MEX) to Belize (BZE)—which began in November 2018—service remains suspended. Tropic Air, a domestic airline in Belize servicing international destinations to Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras, offers a direct link to Europe and the United Kingdom.
Additionally, TAG Airlines also offers a layover option Monday through Sunday via Flores (FRS) and Guatemala City (GUA). Flights are also available through San Salvador – El Salvador International (SAL) with Avianca Airlines; bookings available as of December 2, 2020 on Avianca.com. It should be noted that Mexico does not require a negative test to enter, but Guatemala does.
Getting a PCR Test Before Departure
For entry to foreign destinations, Britons can look for certified RT-PCR test (considered gold standard) providers such as Nomad Global. Notably, COVID-19 testing is available on the NHS only if you have symptoms; or, if you have been asked to take one by your GP, hospital or local council. Travelers are tested again on arrival and must quarantine until results are delivered. In GB, prices vary but are often around £100-£200 for a swab test – which shows if you are currently infected.
Britons can take a COVID-19 PCR test taken three days prior to departing for Belize; this allows passengers a ‘fast track’ through Belize’s international airport. Otherwise, arriving passengers can opt for a double rapid test inside Belize’s international airport for a cost of £38 per person.
For those without a PCR test result in hand, passengers can undergo a double rapid test at their own expense. Results can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes of taking the test, for a total cost of about £38. Protocol includes a Rapid Antigen Test (nasal swab) and an Antibody IgG/IgM combo test (finger prick blood test). Both take approximately 5 to 15 minutes for the patient to receive their results. All tourists can proceed with immigration and customs before exiting into Belize’s Tourism Safe Corridor; test results are delivered to you at your Gold Standard accommodation, where you would remain for quarantine if testing positive on arrival to Belize.
Travelers must download and complete the Belize Travel Health App within 72 hours of travel to Belize. All travelers must test negative for COVID-19 in order to enter Belize. Belize does not have any travel bans in place, nor require a quarantine on arrival. GBP is not accepted in Belize—be sure to convert to USD beforehand.
England is drastically reducing its quarantine period for people arriving from most destinations in a move that will potentially throw open the doors for British people wanting to take foreign vacations. As of Dec. 15, travelers arriving into England will have to self-isolate just five days instead of the current 14; this is under a new testing strategy announced by the UK government. Under the new rules, all international arrivals from destinations absent from England’s travel corridor list will have the option to take a Covid-19 test after being in quarantine for the shorter period. Additionally, those with a negative result can then refrain from self-isolating, but must continue to follow domestic COVID-19 rules.
Outbound travel from England is currently banned due to a national lockdown, which is due to come to an end on December 2. The UK’s mandatory two-week quarantine came into effect on June 8 and has been heavily criticized by many in the travel sector
The Test to Release for International Travel scheme is for people who need to self-isolate on arrival in England. Essentially, under the scheme you can choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test. The earliest you can take the test is at least 5 days after you leave a destination not on the travel corridor list for Britons, like Belize. However if the result is negative, you can stop self-isolating. The scheme is voluntary and applies to those self-isolating in England only. The UK Government will soon release a list of providers; you must use those on the list if you opt for the test-to-release strategy. The test must be booked prior to arrival back in England, with the information detailed in the mandatory Passenger Locator Form.