As of March 1, 2022, we have had a big loosening of Covid restrictions in Belize. A moment many of us have long been waiting for – and a handful started on early 😀 I say that because for a while now more people, both local and travelers, have not been wearing masks outdoors. Also because a friend’s cart went missing temporarily a while back and nearby security camera footage definitely showed people out past curfew. I also noticed from my heart of town veranda view, that more people were playing beat the curfew clock on weekends and not winning – this has been going on over the last few weeks.
The biggest and most welcome changes are: we no longer have a curfew (which I actually liked) and best of all no more masks outside.
According to the latest March 1st Statutory Instrument (SI), (#37 in 2022) we are no longer required to wear masks outdoors in an open space or when driving solo or with members of the same house. There are people still wearing masks when they drive and some are not wearing them and not from the same household 😀
They also stated at a private residence, however, I do not know too many people who were making their guests wear masks at their house. Exceptions to that would be people who had a high-risk person living in the house.
One upside to masks outside was they cut the smell of sargasso, which is currently at the water’s edge.
Current Mask Mandates
We do however still need to wear masks when: shopping, in any business establishments, Government buildings, on public transportation. Also, masks must be worn at social clubs, wedding ceremonies, funerals, or any group event that is held indoors or in a close-quarters space. A friend just told me he has already seen maskless people in both grocery and hardware stores.
* Children under the age of six years old are exempt from wearing masks. Neck gators are still prohibited. It is a finable offence to not wear a mask at places you are supposed to.
Town Council doing their best to make a dent in the sargasso in the picture below. Unfortunately, in addition to the smell, it is causing sand loss to the popular beach road. In spite of the occasional wafts of sargasso, it’s nice to walk the beach maskless again.
Social Distancing, Events, And Fines
As far as the SI goes, we are still required to social distance – this includes avoiding crowds, refraining from physical contact with people, and keeping no less than six feet apart from each other. I find that amusing as that it’s just not an easy thing to do here and there are lots who just don’t feel the need to – as evidenced in Facebook pictures – 😀
It is actually a ticketable offence not to do so. Fun fact – the word fine came up 36 times and violation ticket 31 times when I did a word search SI. But chances are slim you will get one if you follow protocol in regards to fineable offences.
For events, proof of immunization is required to host and attend. This includes weddings, funerals, celebrations, sporting or recreational, social clubs, concerts, and banquets. Not following this regulation is subject to a $5000 fine.
In regards to fitness, immunization is required for sporting activities and players are exempt from social distancing. Walkers, cyclers, and other forms of exercise are still required to social distance and be subject to a fine for not following protocol. Gyms are allowed to open at 75% of their capacity if they have proper ventilation and are supposed to be by appointment. Social distancing and masks are required to enter the gym but are not required while exercising.
Here is where it takes a small turn for crazy, or should I say, crazier haha! According to the SI, bars, night clubs and rum shops are to remain closed. Do not worry, since most of our bars sell food, they are all still open and you can buy alcohol at stores. Restaurants are still supposed to be 75% of capacity and by reservation only – although you can manage without one if you are a smaller group.
Another crazy component to this whole thing is the fines, which thankfully I have not yet read about anyone getting. As far as the new regulations go there are various fines and violation tickets listed between the $200 and $5000 range. Some offences also carry imprisonment ranging from three months – to two years. Fines can be issued for things like failing to quarantine, going out before mandatory quarantine is ended, resisting an officer – or someone acting under the authority of these regulations. Violation tickets can be given for not wearing masks or properly social distancing upon entry by land or sea, and false immunization cards are also an offence. As far as payment goes, it is due within fifteen calendar days of the date of the issue and increases $10 a day thereafter.
If you want to feel better about your covid situation read our archaically written SI #37 for 2022, it will help you feel what a truly strange and confusing time this past couple of years has been in the country of Belize.
Traveler Arrival Info
Along with within-country changes, there has been a slight loosening of the arrivals procedure.
Another big and very positive change, all those who are immunized no longer need to get a negative test. For those fully vaccinated or 12 or over you must show a digital or hardcopy proof of your immunization to forgo the testing requirements. This applies to both land and sea entry into Belize.
You are still able to bring your own PCR results which are only required if you are not fully vaccinated. Should you need one, PCR tests are still available at Philip Goldson International Airport for $50 USD. *Children ages 5 – 11 will not be subjected to Covid entry tests. ** KIds age 5 – 11 who are re-entering Belize after having exited for three nights are required to test.
You are still authorized to stay at a gold standard hotel. While the SI says you need to have proof (it’s always a good idea) I have not heard of anyone getting checked as thoroughly as the Statutory Instrument makes it seem like you will.
For those wanting to bring in personal test kits, you must apply to the ministry of health for a permit for customs and provide proof that the test(s) is approved by one of the following: Food and Drug Administration, European Medicines Agency, or World Health Organization. Should they find some in your luggage, they may confiscate them. That being said, I know people who have bought enough for personal use in luggage without a permit and never had any issue at customs.
As for Covid testing upon leaving, that depends on what your home country requires.
What if I Test Positive and What’s to Come?
Heaven forbid the unthinkable happens and you test positive. Now with your mandatory insurance that is a big help to cover expenses. According the SI, vacationers who test positive are authorized for immediate and mandatory quarantine at a government-designated quarantine facility. Usually, you will stay sequestered in your hotel room unless it was booked and they need to move you to a different location and sterilize. You will be required to test negative in order to leave.
As for what’s to come, good news – I read if all goes well that there will be an even greater loosening of restrictions as of April 1st, 2022. Finally, the Covid Coaster is slowing down quickly and coming to a welcome end.