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Cabinet brief

Belmopan, Belize. Wed. Dec. 1, 2021– A Cabinet brief released on Wednesday indicated that the Minister of Education, Culture, Science & Technology, Hon. Francis Fonseca, informed members of the Cabinet at the most recent Cabinet meeting that plans are in place for the reopening of schools for “some level of in-person learning” in January 2022. As a result, all schools are required to apply for green light status from the ministry prior to the opening of schools in January to allow for teachers and students to return to the classroom.

Regarding travel and tourism, Cabinet gave approval for the Ministry of the Blue Economy and Civil Aviation to employ eight additional persons who will be trained to serve as air traffic controllers in anticipation of record high arrivals at the Philip Goldson International Airport due to the start of the 2021 tourism season. Additionally, the Cabinet brief indicated that, due to the discovery of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, approval was given for additional restrictive measures to be put in place for persons from countries where this new variant has been detected who are entering Belize through the airport, land borders and seaports of entry. These will be a part of an updated Public Health Regulations regime pending publication. Free testing has also been approved for all students returning home during the month of December through the land borders.

As it relates to the progress of the vaccination campaign, the Ministry of Health and Wellness stated that as of Wednesday, 319,108 vaccines were available in the country, and as of the 29th of November 2021, 209,176 persons had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 194,398 had been fully vaccinated.

Cabinet also discussed the ongoing impasse between the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BFSCA) and the Belize Sugar Industry Limited (BSI/ASR) in regard to the Commercial Agreement between the two entities. Cabinet reportedly views it as critical that the 2021-2022 sugar cane harvest begins in December 2021. There has also been a recommendation for the introduction of a Loan Motion at the Sitting of the House of Representatives scheduled for Friday, 3rd December 2021 in order to enable the country to access a US$2.5 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank to “assist government with the financing of emergency restoration of critical infrastructure as a result of damages caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota”.

Finally, the Cabinet shared that they were happy to review the “report on Belize’s participation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Twenty-Sixth Conference of Parties (COP26) that was held in Glasgow, Scotland, which saw the strong participation of Belize as an advocate for greater action to address pressing and urgent needs to confront the increasing impacts of climate change on the development of the nation”.

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