Prime Minister to review plans for removal of COVID travel restrictions; health travel insurance may still be required

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Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2022. 8:25 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Minister of Health and Wellness Kevin Bernard is working on a paper concerning the potential removal of COVID-related restrictions to be presented at Cabinet when it next meets and Prime Minister John Briceño said today they will review it together.

Bernard, while not going into specifics, told our colleagues at KREM News this week that “All I can tell you is that by principle we at the Ministry believe it is now time to remove all restrictions. It’s now [about] personal responsibility. We are focusing on our ages 5-11 population to get them vaccinated and encourage people who are not vaccinated to get vaccinated.”

The Prime Minister added that “I guess I will probably be speaking with him (Bernard) over the course of the week” concerning the paper.

On the matter of continuing with hotel travel insurance, the Prime Minister said Minister of Tourism Anthony Mahler was best placed to answer, though he pointed out at least one aspect of the insurance is supported by the hotel industry: “The travel insurance also covers the hotel, so if you have a reservation and that person gets COVID and can’t come to Belize, you, the hotel, you are being covered by the insurance so it is something that a number of hoteliers have been quite supportive of.”

Meanwhile, KREM News has confirmed that COVID-19 self-tests are now being sold over the counter in Belize. They are available at Brodie’s and Design Depot for $75. Director of Public Health and Wellness, Dr. Melisa Musa told KREM News approval was given for the importation of SD biosensor kits.

At the start of April this year, SI 61 of 2022 which remains the law at present, set out the guidelines for the importation of home tests.

Any importer has to apply in writing to the Ministry of Health and provide proof that the kit has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency, or the World Health Organization.

If approval is granted, the importer must submit the home test kit to the Central Medical Laboratory for validation within 7 days of importation. If a permit is not obtained before the importation of a home test kit, the kit shall be confiscated and the person will be fined $5,000. The same procedure applies to importers in the bulk of home test kits or any equipment or supplies related to COVID testing.

Minister Bernard also spoke about ensuring guidelines would be put in place for the maintenance of an official record of positive cases before authorizing the sale of COVID-19 home tests. It is not clear whether these guidelines are what he may be working on, among other things.

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