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Corozal Free Zone Successfully Keeps COVID-19 Out

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

The Corozal Freezone, which reopened its doors over eight months ago, despite heavy criticism from the public surrounding the safety of Belizeans, has managed to combat the odds and has only reported one COVID-19 infection since its reopening.

According to the information, one symptomatic case was picked up last week by the robust screening measures at the entrance of the Freezone. That individual was immediately swabbed while a health team moved swiftly to conduct contract tracing at the store where the employee worked. A total of 18 persons were identified during that activity, however, all of them tested negative.

The CEO of the Corozal Freezone Neri Ramirez explained how the Free Zone has managed to remain COVID-19 free despite the high infection rate in neighboring Mexico.

“We have hired 17 COVID-Martials on the ground and they are here from 8:00 in the morning to 6:00 p.m. The entire zone has been divided into eight blocks. Each one of them has to inspect the stores within their zones twice daily to ensure that persons are practicing social distancing, wearing their mask and having security checking the temperatures, and sanitizing all customers coming into the store,” Ramirez added. “So, it is a constant inspection that they do and we collect that data so we know if they are doing their jobs or not. It boils down to strict enforcement and not letting up. We also have regular screening, because even though we are 100% vaccinated, we are not bringing down our guard. We continue to do testing to know exactly where we stand and to keep the Freezone free of COVID.”

Ramirez also told us that out of the Freezone’s 1,330 employees, all 100 percent of that number has gotten their first dose of the vaccine while 95% have gotten their second dose. 100 percent of the investors—which also include Mexican investors—have also been vaccinated.

Ramirez also told us that a Ministry of Health Team was on the ground doing a vaccination drive to administer the second dose of the vaccine to those that needed it while a follow-up session is scheduled for November to capture the remaining population.

But even as the Freezone is leading the way by keeping the virus from entering the establishment, they have also been excelling from a business perspective. “So far, it has been going excellent, business is not going down but it is actually increasing. Since we reopened, more companies are reopening their doors inside the Free Zone and our workforce is increasing, because we have now surpassed the one-third figure that they had initially recommended. We have hired 1,315 employees out of the 3,000 that we initially had. The traffic is also increasing. Since we reopened we have had a total of 165,000 vehicles passing through here which is equivalent to a little over half a million visitors. So businesswise, I think the Corozal Freezone has been doing very well. I would say that it is already back on track between 65% to 70% of what it was before the pandemic.”

When we asked Ramirez about whether the Corozal Freezone will be implementing the vaccination pass, he answered, “We do not request the vaccination pass for Mexicans; they are visitors who are not coming into the country. They are only coming into the zone. Even before our employees come into the Free Zone, they have to pass through the Immigration checkpoint and Border Management, where they are required to present their vaccination card or negative PCR test.”

Ramirez said that he does not believe that a vaccination card will assist the Management of the Freezone in any way because they have done exceptionally well without one for the past eight months and do not believe that it is required for visitors at this point.

The Corozal Free Zone is considered to be a Statutory Body with representatives of Government on the Board of Directors.

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