Belize delays airport reopening, unveils mandatory health app for entry

Belize delays airport reopening, unveils mandatory health app for entry

BELIZE CITY — Belize has delayed the reopening of its Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The airport was scheduled to reopen on Aug. 15 for chartered flights, private aviation and international leisure travel with approved hotels only.

Prime Minister Rt. Dean Barrow, who made the announced at a press conference on Aug. 5, said that although the airport will not reopen, the weekly repatriation flights for Belizean nationals abroad will continue as well as the 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

The destination reported 14 new potential positive cases of COVID-19 since last weekend, with several appearing to have no apparent link to anyone outside of Belize.

“The numbers continue to be rather extensive as we move along…there are many sporadic cases beginning to pop up,” said Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services who spoke at the press conference.

The opening of the airport will be announced at a later date.

Upon reopening, Belize will have put in place several new safety measures that include a Tourism Gold Standard program and a health app that will give travellers added peace of mind during their vacation.

The Tourism Gold Standard program is a nine-point system meant to enhance the country’s health and safety standards across hotels, restaurants and tour operators. These include mandatory face masks, social distancing, contactless guest solutions, enhanced room cleaning, daily staff and guest health checks and reduced capacity.

Hotels that have achieved the Tourism Gold Standard will be the first to reopen. Visitors will only be able to visit tourism sites with an approved Tourism Gold Standard tour operator during this phase of reopening.

More information can be found here.

For Canadians interested in travelling to Belize, the new Belize Health App will be required to be downloaded within 72 hours of arrival in Belize. Though not yet available for download, once it goes live there will be official communication from the Government of Belize and the Belize Tourism Board on where the app can be found and how it can be used.

The app is part of Belize’s four-step system for all travellers, including Canadians:

1. Before you leave: Book approved accommodations, register on the Belize Health App and complete required information within 72 hours of boarding your flight. Travellers must also take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of travel.

2. Arrival in Belize: Proceed to health screening, pass thermal imaging and undergo a temperature check. Travellers must verify their unique ID code on their Belize Health App and verify their negative COVID-19 PCR test results. If they have not taken a test prior to flying, they will be required to test upon arrival. If negative, travellers can proceed to immigration and customs; if positive, they will be placed in quarantine for 14 days at their own expense.

3. Immigration and customs: Proceed to immigration, baggage and then customs where luggage is scanned.

4. While in Belize: The Belize Health App will check in daily, using the unique ID code and geo ping. As visitors continue to show no symptoms they may continue to vacation. If they show symptoms, they will be required to take part in Ministry of Health activities and tests, and may be placed in quarantine, departing upon health clearance.

For more information on the Belize Health App click here.