BELIZE CITY, Fri. Jan. 29, 2021– The Ministry of Health and Wellness announced a modification of the curfew regulations during a press conference that it held on Friday, January 29, 2021. Effective February 1, 2021, the curfew in place for adults will run from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., a two-hour reduction of the curfew period that was put in place by the previous SI 175 of 2020. The curfew in place for children, however, will remain unchanged, from 6:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. This new restriction will remain in effect for 30 days.
On December 15, the Government of Belize implemented a set of stricter measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country. One of these was the curfew, which seemed to have no end. Despite the cries from the public since its enactment at the time, however, the effectiveness of the curfew is indisputable. According to the Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Michel Chebat, the country started to see improved results from epi-week 51.
“We cannot afford to let our guard down; we are not relaxing, we are only modifying. Don’t be afraid to get tested, continue to access our testing sites and let us keep our population safe. Since epi-week 51, which is December 13 – 19, 2020, to epi-week 3, which is January 17 to 23, 2021, we have seen a steady decrease in positivity rate from 20% to 10%,” Minister Chebat said.
As mentioned, curfew regulations will remain unchanged for minors; however, the Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries is requesting that police officers exercise discretion in cases where parents must pick children up after the curfew hour of 6:00 p.m. has passed. He also noted that families on vacation will have to adhere to the regulations if they do have minors with them.
“While the law says that the minors have to be inside by 6:00, we are very aware that there are a lot of parents who have to pick up their children from a grandmother or a babysitter or what have you, and so in the Police Department, when it comes to the enforcement of this particular provision, we have requested that police officers exercise their discretion as it relates to this particular point, because other than that, there should be no reason.” Minster Musa said.
When asked if the children of tourists would be allowed to be out with their parents after the curfew hours, Hon. Musa added, “ I’m not a fan of having different rules apply to different locations across the country; I like it across the board — Belizeans and tourists, the same applies, and so if the tourist comes with their family and their young children, then you can have dinner in your room, you can have dinner at your hotel, you’re on your premises. And so, they’re not to be out after 6:00 p.m.”
Violating the curfew, or other restrictions, is now a ticketable offense. Persons found outside during curfew hours will be given $500.00 tickets, but will no longer be detained, processed, and arraigned for the offense. Musa shared that this decision will not only bring added revenue to the country, but will also reduce police interaction with the public.
The estimated end date of the curfew is March 2, 2021 — 30 days from the new curfew’s start date on February 1. At that time the Government of Belize will decide whether to extend the measure or end the curfew, depending on the COVID-19 numbers at that time.