BELIZE CITY, Fri. Jan. 29, 2021– During a press conference hosted by the Ministry of Health and Wellness last Friday, Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, announced that violators of COVID-19 protocols would be subjected to tickets that will result in $500 fines. The Minister shared that this approach will limit interaction between the police and the general public.
In recent months, hundreds of Belizeans have been arrested and charged for breach of the various COVID-19 regulations. The personal contact with violators that was necessary for police officers to make those arrests contributed to the infection of hundreds of police officers since the start of the pandemic. The mass arrests for violations also imposed additional strain on the courts, which are already bogged down with enormous caseloads and limited judicial personnel.
According to Minister Musa, this ticketing system is also expected to bring much-needed revenue into the country while acting as an effective deterrent.
“On the last occasion of the House of Representatives, we had proposed the issuing of violation tickets. As you know, under the previous quarantine regulations, members of the public were subjected to being detained, if they were not wearing their masks, or if they were breaching other parts of the regulation. They were taken to the police station, they were processed, they were told to return to the court the following day, and that resulted in an overcrowding, not just of the police station, but also of the courthouse. And so, we saw where that in itself could be a potential super spreader, and hence the reason we decided to move in the direction of tickets for offenses, and so these new regulations under the Public Health Safety Act, provide for the issuance of violation tickets,” Minister Musa said.
He noted that these tickets will be issued to persons who are found outside during the curfew hours, those found not wearing a face mask properly, and persons found in breach of social distancing protocols. Also, if persons are found playing any contact sport, they will also be ticketed.
Minister Musa shared that persons entering the country through the Philip Goldson International Airport must also adhere to these regulations put in place by the Ministry or be subjected to being ticketed as well.