What’s it like to travel to Belize during COVID?

The following blog written by John, one of our managers, describes his experience traveling back to Belize from the USA during COVID.

Recently, I returned to San Pedro, Belize after a few months back in West Michigan. The government lifted travel restrictions and quarantine for anyone with negative COVID test results on October 19th.  But, I arrived on the 16th, so I had to stay in quarantine for two days at the Sandbar Hostel on the beach near downtown San Pedro. Sandbar like Sapphire Beach Resort is one of many resorts in Belize that has completed the rigorous requirements to achieve the Gold Standard Certification for COVID mitigation. My friends and family were able to stop by for cocktails and pizza. We followed the social distancing protocol by limiting the number of guests at our table and only removing our masks when sitting down, allowing ample space between each person.

What to do before you travel to Belize during COVID

Acquire travel insurance which is available at time of booking through Sapphire Beach Resort.

Get a COVID-19 PCR test to be eligible for Fast Track Arrival in Belize. 

Make sure the test clearly states that you are NEGATIVE FOR COVID-19.

Make a booking at an official Gold Standard Hotel.

Print proof of booking at an official Gold Standard Hotel.

Download the Belize Health App for Android or Apple.

FIll in the required information on the Belize Health App.

Screenshot your Unique ID and QR code to show immigration in Belize as a precaution in case your not able to open the app in case the WIFI signal is weak at the airport.

Belize Travel Requirements: COVID-19 PCR Testing

I got my COVID PCR test 72 hours before my flight, which was the best choice as I did not want to get tested and wait for the results at the airport. I used a drive-through test center at Walgreens and had my negative results with plenty of time to spare. Be sure that the test results say “negative” not “no indication of COVID.” You may be asked to take another test if anything other than negative is used to describe the test results. Make sure that the date the test was taken and the date the lab completed the test are on your results. The other item missing on some lab results is the type of test Belize requires that the documents state that this was a PCR test. Worst-case scenario, you may need to wait a little longer at the airport for new test results. The PCR test costs 50 USD per passenger at the airport. 

Who Should Get a COVID-19 PCR Test 72 Hours Before Travel to Belize?

If you want to ensure quick entry into Belize.

Folks who don’t like waiting in the airport.

Anyone who lives near a safe, accessible drive-though testing center like Walgreens.

[Find Walgreens testing centers near you]

What is like to fly internationally to Belize during COVID?

I was very impressed with the precautions and sanitization protocol use by United Airlines. Boarding was not by a group to minimize contact. Instead, the plane was filled from the back to the front, 10 rows at a time. Deplaning was also by row, and passengers were asked to stay seated until their rows were called. The flight attendants distributed sanitized wipes during the boarding process. When I opened the overhead compartment, I was able to detect the faint smell of disinfectant through my mask. Once in my seat, I wiped my hands, the armrests, and the tray with the disinfectant cloth. All of this was very comforting. Later I found out that United is partnering with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to develop the best possible safety standards. Even more impressive is that the air filtering system in this plane removes 99.997% of all infectious particles.

I was surprised to learn that, according to Harvard researchers, exposure to COVID-19 on a plane is less likely than going to the grocery store.

“Analysis from the report shows that ventilation of air on aircraft reduces the possibility of exposure to COVID-19, lower than other common settings, such as a grocery store or indoor restaurant.”

[Source: Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Release Phase One “Gate-to-Gate” Report of SARS CoV-2 Transmission and Risk Mitigation While Flying

Overview of United Airlines Flight Safety Procedures For My Flight to Belize 

Limited number of people  boarding and deplaning at one time.

Distributed antiseptic sanitizer wipes.

Partnership with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic.

99.997% of all infectious particles are filtered from the air.

Local Transportation from Goldson International Airport

Checking in for the local flight was fairly routine. The only added requirement was a temperature check. Within 20 minutes I was on the local flight to San Pedro. The total flight time is about 15 minutes. My Gold Standard Certified ride was waiting for me at the San Pedro airstrip.

What’s it like on the ground in Belize?

A few other precautions by the Belize government included temperature checks at the airport and when checking into the hotel. Gold Standard resorts are required to take a temperature reading of guests each day. Local businesses, restaurants, and the airport are required to have hand washing stations and hand sanitizer at the entryway to their businesses. Staff will gently remind you that washing your hands is a requirement of the government protocol.

What safety measures has Belize put in place? 

Temperature checks at the airport.

Temperature checks at resorts.

By law, all citizens and visitors to Belize must wear a face mask when in public spaces.  

Social distancing.

Hand washing stations and hand sanitizer at the entryway to businesses.

Enhanced hotel & restaurant cleaning practices, social interactions, workplace policies, and standard operating procedures

Did I feel safe traveling to Belize during COVID?

My overall impression was that the requirements for travel are a minor inconvenience at best. Like the increased security after 911, this is a necessary safety feature that we will need to accept. Initially, this will require a little extra travel time. The system will improve. I will be back in the air again in a few months.