BELIZE CITY, Wed. July 7, 2021– The Government of Belize released its new SI (Statutory Instrument) 74 of 2021 on July 4 and included new provisions which require biweekly testing, starting on August 1, of frontline workers who have not started the immunization process. The government says the requirement is being put in place to safeguard the population from another outbreak and encourage vaccination among the population.
The most recent Statutory Instrument states, “In the opinion of the Minister, there is the imminent threat of further community spread of COVID-19 as a result of the numerous cases present in the countries neighboring Belize.”
In light of the discovery of the black fungus, mucormycosis, in Mexico, the concerns of Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Michel Chebat, are valid. (Black fungus is a rare and dangerous fungal infection that has been afflicting a number of persons who have recovered, or are recovering, from COVID-19. It affects the eyes and nose, and sometimes even the brain. A number of persons suffering from the infection have had to have an eye removed.)
Those frontline workers who will be mandated to present a negative Covid-19 test result every two weeks if they have not been vaccinated include healthcare workers, police officers, Coast Guard officers, BDF soldiers, teachers, tourism workers, Customs officers, Immigration officers, public transport operators, officers from the Transport Department and workers in public utility services.
And while the list of frontline workers seems to have increased, the Health Ministry has explained that they have expanded the category of frontline workers in order to be inclusive of the workers who will be on the frontline in the country’s efforts to bring about economic recovery, especially in the tourism industry.
Section 11(3) of SI 74 of 2021 states, “A frontline worker who fails to comply with this regulation shall be deemed absent from work and subject to disciplinary proceedings in accordance with any law that regulates the services of that frontline worker.”
So the frontline workers who still have not started the inoculation process will not only have their vaccination status publicized bi-weekly but will also be subject to a painful, and in some instances harmful, nasal swab test on a regular basis.
Employees and owners of restaurants are also now being mandated to become vaccinated in order for those establishments to continue operating.