Coronavirus on the Island
The world has fiercely battled against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in Belize, we have remained widely COVID-Free. Since country chose to close the borders in March, we only dealt with a few cases at a time. Since the country took safe guards for the entire population, we have been widely unaffected by the actual virus. We have however been affected by the nation’s lock down and consequences of it.
Locals, tourists, and expats have slowly left or returned to Belize through repatriation flights provided by United Airlines. Through mostly illegal border entry and the repatriation of Belizeans from the U.S. and abroad, our numbers have just risen over 30 people.
We are blessed that our government took so many precautions. This time has been difficult with little to no income, but has given the nation time to see what information has come out about COVID-19 and learn from other nations decisions.
In March, Belize’s announced our first case by the Government Press conference for one in San Pedro. That same day, San Pedro locked down from the rest of the nation. The island had a scare with a rapid strict quarantine put in place. We know we at Drift Inn were not prepared to stay inside for weeks on end.
Even with few cases, the government issued several stages of lockdown. They rapidly added curfews, mandated face masks, and required sanitation stations outside businesses across the country. Although it was a little annoying to only shop between 7-10am for a few weeks, we felt safe. We had an 8 pm curfew and were restricted to the island. We did not have enough food stored up, didn’t know they’d cancel alcohol, and not allowed on the water anymore. Tourists, expats, and residents alike did not foresee the restrictions we faced. We assumed we would be sitting pretty in the Caribbean whilst the rest of the world kept on going. We are happy at Drift Inn to be in a country that cares so much about its people. We are proud that Belize maintained low numbers through the beginning of 2020.
Coronavirus on the island has not affected Belize like the Coronavirus abroad. The actual virus was not our issue – but the mandates and border closing. Belizeans got laid off by the hundreds since we had no tourists coming in and businesses were under mandatory shutdown. This situation caused many people to leave the island. Unable to pay their bills, many returned to their mainland hometowns either before or after travel restrictions. It is sad to know many of these people will remain on the mainland and find alternate jobs. Shout out to our housekeeper, Ana, who chose to stay on the mainland to enroll her kid in school. <3
Aid in San Pedro
San Pedro thrives on tourism and if business is down the ones who suffer are the people. However, charitable giving organizations rose to the occasion by donating money and food to island residents in need. Organizations like Hope Haven in San Pedro, aided locals with bags of food for families each week since March. Even the elected town council has provided a willing hand by giving out groceries to families. It is beautiful how everybody is always stepping up to support one another in our community.
How does coronavirus affect tourism?
As we all know the pandemic affected tourism worldwide. Since March, hotels and restaurants have been shut down. Businesses are slowly reopening, with hotels opening to locals in May and curfews being lifted in July.
Belize has also announced the reopen date for the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport as August 15, 2020. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for everyone as we safely transition to reopen borders. Guests who had to cancel will soon be able to rebook their vacations!
As of now (July 2020), Drift Inn has not received a Gold Standard Certification. We are in the process of getting one so we can host international tourists once again. We have installed sanitation stations and created new regulations and policies to suit the “new norm”. Read about our COVID-19 initiatives here.