Last Repatriation Flight Lands as Belize Preps Airport Reopening

by Carolee Chanona
belize airport empty

Belize accepts its last chartered repatriation flight on commercial airline United, ahead of its international airport reopening for leisurely travel on October 1. And on September 25, a total of 38 more Belizeans arrive via repatriation to the Philip Goldson International Airport.

Starting June, a number of repatriation flights via United Airlines have arrived in Belize after approval from the Repatriation Program; repatriation is being led by Belize’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Health and National Security. At the time of writing, Belize places all incoming citizens in a government-approved quarantine hotel before swabbing at Day 7 of quarantine. Once negative, a citizen may leave quarantine; if positive, a citizen must remain in quarantine until testing negative twice. As of September 25, a total of 2,274 Belizeans have applied for repatriation with 956 successfully repatriated. While some repatriations have arrived via cruise ships or land borders, the large majority have arrived via the Philip Goldson International Airport.

These protocols are currently in place until the last scheduled repatriation charter on August 28; Belize will reopen its international airport for leisurely travel on October 1.

Over 2,000 Belizeans Apply for Repatriation

With the controlled repatriation process, some of the returning Belizeans have tested positive for COVID-19. However, Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero stresses that the risk posed to the community is minimal.

“Once we go through our repatriation process that allows you to go through the adequate mechanisms that has been established, following the new protocols, I don’t think that [community spread] should be a concern,” Manzanero said.

The repatriation process began on May 18, when the online application to do so became available. The controlled repatriation will continue until the airport reopens to leisurely travel on October 1. At reopening, entry requirements revised September 23 by the Belize Tourism Board effectively waives the mandatory one-day quarantine. Previously, a mandatory one-day quarantine was applicable for all travelers except foreign tourists, such as Belizean residents, citizens, persons with business concerns, foreign second homeowners, qualified retired persons (QRP), and long stay, non-national visitors. Additionally, the revised entry requirements for Belizeans and Residents, along with long-stay Non-Nationals, reduces the self-quarantine at home from 14-days to 10-days instead. As a reminder, Belizean citizens and residents must apply to visit during Phase 3 of Belize’s Travel Reopening Plan; forms will be available at https://www.covid19.bz.

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Travel regulations and requirements are subject to change as new developments in COVID-19 arise. It is important to visit www.travelbelize.org/health-safety before booking travel or visiting Belize.
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