BELMOPAN, Fri. Feb 5, 2021– According to preliminary reports from Government officials, about 800 persons have regained employment after the reopening of the Corozal Free Zone (CFZ). This past week Mexican shoppers were allowed to enter the Corozal Free Zone and make purchases. According to Mexican officials, an estimated 3,000 persons went to the free zone on the first day. While no COVID-19 variant is reported in Chetumal, health officials on the ground in Mexico are looking at ways to implement some sort of health intervention protocol, for those Mexican nationals going to the Corozal Free Zone.
While the increased movement poses an obvious health risk, the Government of Belize says the increase of employment and economic activity in the Corozal District as a result of the reopening of the CFZ is something they are happy about. But they are being very careful about it, they said.
“We are happy to see the reopening of the Corozal Free Zone. This act alone is allowing about 800 hundred families in Corozal to have food on the table at home. And we’re opening up smart. We know we have to be careful; we’re opening up smart with all the proper mask-wearing protocols, the proper hygiene protocols, and the physical distancing.” Prime Minister Briceno said during his remarks at the last sitting of the House of Representatives.
In an interview with local media this week, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, told local media that he is happy that almost 1,000 persons are being employed in the CFZ. He shared that he has concerns for the health and wellness of those persons now trafficking the free zone, but he is confident in the protocols for testing workers and preventing infection inside the free zone.
According to Minister Mai, just before the reopening, on January 31, about 400 to 500 persons who were scheduled to resume working inside the CFZ were tested. At the time, four persons, employees of an unnamed company, were found to be infected with COVID-19 and were not allowed to start working inside the zone.
Two of these persons who tested positive were partners. Both were asked to not report to work and are currently in isolation, according to Minister Mai.