“Opening our land borders cannot benefit Mexico but be detrimental to Belize.” This is how Bowen and Bowen’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Bowen responded to the question as to how his company views the recently announced reopening of Belize’s contiguous borders.
The comment follows the Cabinet announcement that the borders were originally scheduled to be reopened in January 2022. The reopening has since been pushed back to February 2022. In his statement to the Reporter, Mr. Bowen explained:
“Opening our land borders cannot benefit Mexico but be detrimental to Belize. While the closure of our land borders due to COVID-19 is not sustainable, it offered some protection to our Health and Safety and decreased contraband.”
The company’s CEO went on to share that the reopening should be conducted in a “controlled manner” that does two things. Firstly, the controlled approach should work to limit the likelihood of increased COVID cases from “incoming travelers.” Secondly, Bowen highlighted that the reopening should be done in such a way as to “protect Belizeans’ livelihoods by ensuring contraband does not return to pre-COVID levels.”
Speaking on the point of contraband, the company also pointed to the fact that “contraband is a significant source of revenue leakage” for the Government of Belize (GOB).
This week, in addition to Bowen and Bowen, the Belize Medical and Dental Association (BMDA) has likewise shared their views on the reopening, with approximately 80 percent of their 200 medical professionals supporting the reopening. The medical community’s position appears to weigh heavily the fact that the COVID-19 positivity rate for Belize has fallen below the benchmark of five percent.
“First of all, our positivity rate is down. Yesterday, they reported a 2.58 positivity rate. So once that is below five percent it means that we can go back to normal life providing that we adhere to the public health measures, mask-wearing, social distancing, and handwashing,” BMDA President Dr. Uldine Wright told The Reporter this week.