Government has announced a proposal to have schools reopen in September. At a press conference today in Belize city PM Barrow stated government wants preschool and primary schools to reopen Monday 7 September and secondary schools on Monday 5 October for distance learning only. Under the plan paper workbooks will be developed and distributed to students. The first month of this teaching approach will be utilized to assess the students.
Government will be distributing digital learning devices to secondary level students in need and will be working with Digi to provide free internet access, to allow for online learning. Approximately 8,000 of those devices are being procured.Teachers will be trained to deliver online learning and will be developing their online curricula. Six thousand students will be given 25GB of data to engage in their online studies via Digi.
Barrow also announced tweaks to rules for COVID-19: Private parties are now completely prohibited, no wedding with more than ten persons, all recreational sports or competitive sporting events have stopped, prohibiting use of public parks and playgrounds, as well.
PM Dean Barrow: “Unfortunately, we’re going to close gyms…” This after a gym where a trainer that was positive infected a trainer. Gyms will have to close for two weeks. Restaurants now “only a on a takeout, delivery and drive-through basis.” Limits on tacos vendors and BBQ sellers: “you find a parking lot, or somewhere close to the street, but not on the street side.
Other COVID-19 measures: Curfew will be 9 pm – 5 am EVERY DAY of the week.
Recreational sports and the use of public parks and playgrounds is off the table. For weddings only the wedding parties will be allowed, the bride, the groom, the priest and witnesses; no guests. Banquets, balls, receptions are also prohibited. Social events are also prohibited that would entail socializing is a no-go. Public worships are now prohibited. With respect to funerals, only ten members of the family and the officiating priest/pastor and the mortuary attendant will be allowed.
Meetings of fraternal societies are banned including lodges, organizations, social clubs or civic associations.
GoB will provide for a list of businesses to operate 24/7 on a shift system including food mills, sugar, citrus, and other approved food production factories; oil production; oil drilling; port operations and services involving cargo loading and unloading.
For transport operators, water taxis and businesses who do not enforce the Covid-19 protocols, the Prime Minister says that penalties will be streamlined as they are expected to take all reasonable measures. PM says they are carefully reviewing the drafting on this section but it is necessary to send the signal that this is serious business and the protocols have to be obeyed.
Mr. Barrow cited the World Health Organisation’s comments saying that a total lock-down is not necessary which he says is exactly what he is avoiding for Belize. Out of today’s COVID-19 results 41 positives out of 272 tests compared to previous days is indicating a downward trend. He added that, “while caution is the watch word, while all that has happened clearly is for us a learning experiencing; while clearly we could have no better motivation for reforming our patterns of behaviour, which to a large extent those patterns are responsible principally for what is now taking place, in that kind of overall context, as we go forward, the new measures we are talking about which are old measures being brought back in a new format to tailor make the response to what is happening now, I want to express the hope which is not just a pious or idle hope that we can ultimately contain this new surge or these new surges; it is with that long but necessary preamble that he announces the way forward.”