The Belize government says effective October 1, only persons who are vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will be allowed to enter public buildings.
Health and Wellness Minister, Michel Chebat, said that public buildings include not only the government buildings, but also privately owned buildings.
“It would include any building where the public has lawful access to, including schools,” he said, adding that the new policy “will also apply to public transport”.
The minister said that provisions are being made for persons who may have to visit hospitals and who have not gotten vaccinated or did not get the opportunity to take a test but needs immediate medical attention.
“Health services will not be barred to anyone in Belize,” Chebat said, reiterating that everyone, regardless of whether or not you are an employee at a public or private business place.
“Absolutely, if you wish to work or if you wish to enter any of these public buildings, you must be vaccinated or present a negative test.
“Clearly the business owners and the administrators who control these buildings will have to be more proactive in their position. And, they will have a direct responsibility to make sure that only people who are vaccinated have access or that they are presenting a negative test.”
On Thursday, the announced that it would hosting consultations with stakeholders and the public on the new policy and that it was encouraging Belizeans to get vaccinated and to continue to wash hands, wear masks, and social distance.
Belize has recorded 373 deaths and 17, 045 infections as a result of the pandemic since the first case was recorded in March last year.
“Eighty one point nine per cent of the hospitalizations we are seeing are of unvaccinated persons, and 12.5 per cent are of persons who are fully vaccinated or partially vaccinated, meaning they only have one shot. In terms of deaths, the number of deaths we are seeing is eighty-two per cent of the people who are dying are unvaccinated persons; and thirteen point three of those are persons with a partial vaccination or only one,” said Chebat.
“So, overwhelmingly the numbers are speaking for themselves. The hospitalizations, the greatest number comes from people who are unvaccinated. The deaths come from people who are unvaccinated.
“So again, I cannot underscore how important it is for our people to be vaccinated. And, this is one of the other features we are seeing with the Delta variant. It is affecting much younger people. Before, with the Alpha, we were seeing older people in their seventies, eighties and nineties passing away from it.
“We are now seeing much younger people. We have had deaths between the ages of 23 to 50, which is the younger, productive sector of our society,” the Health and Wellness Minister added.