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*COVID-19 UPDATE*As a follow up to the training that two officers received in Mexico City, an in-house training is currently ongoing at our Central Medical Laboratory. Parallel to this, the Belize Ministry of Health can confirm that they now have the capacity to do initial screening for COVID-19 as they now have primers and probes to test in country. The tests will be carried out on potential/suspect cases following specific screening purposes.

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Castillo’s Hardware celebrated a great milestone in the town of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, On Febraury 19, 2000, Castillo’s Hardware opened its doors to the Wednesday, February 19, 2020 they celebrated their BIG 20th Anniversary. Mr. and Mrs. Alfonso Castillo could not think of anything better than to celebrate along with the community that they hold dear at heart. They decided to give away $20,000 to their loyal customers by having a raffle of 20 cash prizes of $1,000  to 20 lucky winners.

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The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) of the European Union released the results of its recently concluded meeting held in Brussels on February 18, 2020. The Government of Belize has been informed that the recent amendments to both the Income and Business Tax Act and Tax Administrative and Procedure Act on December 23rd have been positively assessed and the ECOFIN Council has agreed to remove Belize from the EU list of harmful preferential tax regimes (Annex II).

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Cabinet had a meeting on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 and announced that the Prime Minister will advise the Governor General that: (a) The Attorney General Senator Hon. Michael Peyrefitte be appointed as the substantive Minister of National Security to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the Hon. John Saldivar as Minister of National Security. The Minister of State for the Ministry of National Security, the Hon. Elodio Aragon Jr. be responsible for the supervision of the Ministry’s day-to-day management.

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In 2019, Belize joined nine other countries in supporting the United Kingdom-led initiative “30by30” aimed at safeguarding the world’s ocean and protecting its precious wildlife. The 30by30 initiative is a call to action for at least a 30% target of the global ocean to be under protected status as marine protected areas by the year 2030. This call was first made by the Government of the United Kingdom at the United Nations General Assembly last year, at which Belize was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Wilfred Elrington.

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As part of the San Pedro Town Council’s Beach Reclamation Project, the SPTC introduces Phase 1 to the general public which will take effect on Monday, March 15th, 2020. PHASE 1 of the project will include new traffic regulations for Boca del Rio Drive between the sections from Sand Piper Street and Spider Lily Street. A portion of the beach has been reserved for ONE-WAY golf cart traffic passage and parallel parking for one golf cart on the east side of the street.

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Press Release by Belize Audubon Society - Shortly before 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 9, 2020, the Belize Audubon Society, along with other relevant government agencies, was alerted of possible coral reef damage (via video footage) by the anchor of a large yacht within the popular dive site “The Aquarium” at Long Caye in Lighthouse Reef Atoll. BAS Rangers were then deployed from Half Moon Caye along with officers of the Belize Coast Guard in a joint action to respond to the situation and intercept the vessel.

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The Fisheries Department has informed fishers and the public that the lobster season will be closed on February 15th and it will remain closed until midnight of June 14th, 2020. Anyone found in possession of lobster during the said period will be prosecuted in accordance with Section 3(1) (b) of the Fisheries Regulation, Chapter 210 of the Subsidiary Laws of Belize Revised Edition 2000-2003. The Fisheries Department also reminded fishers that lobster traps should be removed from fishing grounds during the closed fishing season.

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On Thursday, February 13, 2020, The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) announced that the Hon. John Saldivar submitted to the Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow his letter of resignation from the Cabinet of Belize. Hon. Saldivar’s resignation is with immediate effect and is done, Hon Saldivar explained, to give himself an opportunity to get out from under the cloud of suspicion resulting from the barrage of accusations leveled against him. He expressed the hope of regaining the confidence of the public and the support of Cabinet once he has cleared his name.

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Customers of Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) in Caye Caulker will soon benefit from a new 1705kW capacity generation unit that arrived on the island early Wednesday, February 12, 2020. The unit was sourced from Panama in January to provide increased generation capacity and reliability of power supply. BEL teams have commenced preparations to connect the unit to the power system and conduct testing for 48 hours with the island’s load. During testing, BEL teams will continue to monitor and make necessary adjustments to ensure that the unit operates consistently and efficiently.

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On Tuesday, Febraury 11, 2020, The Governor General of Belize H.E. Sir Colville Young swore in Hon. Hugo Patt as Deputy Prime Minister. Hon. Hugo Patt has been serving as the Minister of Natural Resources since June 2018 and has represented Corozal North in the National Assembly since 2012.

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Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) advises customers in Caye Caulker that the new 1705kW capacity generation unit sourced from Panama in early January, is now scheduled for commissioning on the island by Tuesday, February 18 following delays at ports in neighboring countries.

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Advisory Mission on Harmonization of Legislation on Cybercrime and Electronic Evidence The Ministry of National Security, in collaboration with the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, hosted the opening ceremony for the Advisory Mission on Harmonization of Legislation on Cybercrime and Electronic Evidence in Belize City, Belize.

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The United Democratic Party of Belize held its National Convention in Belize City at the Belize Civic Center on Sunday, February 9, 2020. A total of 570 UDP delegates were to cast their vote but only 569 did as one was absent due to illness. Coming out victorious was John Saldivar as new UDP Party leader with a total of 342 votes against Patrick Faber with 227 votes.

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The Embassy of Belize to the Republic of China (Taiwan) hosted a Press Conference on Friday, February 7, 2020, to unveil lanterns depicting elements of Belize's Maya-Mestizo Heritage: the Lamanai Mask Temple, Deer Dance Festival, and Marimba.

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The Government of Belize issued a press release on Saturday, February 8, 2020, stating that given the recent situations with travel history that have been documented upon arrival at the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport and other points of entry, both the Ministries of Health and Immigration are hereby directing that all travelers who have been in China within 14 days immediately prior to arrival in Belize be denied entry.

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AN ON GILLNETS MUST BE DECISIVE - Without meaningful longevity, potential success will be undermined and fishers will be shortchanged Thursday, February 6th, 2020 – In December 2019, in the context of unwavering advocacy for more than two decades and widespread national support, the Government of Belize took the historic step to declare gillnets destructive.

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On February 6, 2020, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Belize to the United Nations, H.E. Lois M. Young, acting on behalf of the Government of Belize, signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Treaty was adopted on July 7, 2017 and opened for signature on September 20, 2017. The goal of the Treaty is for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. This signing demonstrates the support of the Government of Belize to a world free of nuclear weapons.

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The Dispatch Travelogue is an Indian media group and has placed Ambergris Caye as one of its “Must Visit Places in the World” ranking it number three out of a hundred places.

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On January 29, 2020, the Embassy of Belize in Mexico and the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), a statutory body under the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade and Commerce of the Government of Belize (GOB), hosted a one-day seminar focused on advancing the business momentum between both countries. The core objective of the seminar was to enable greater knowledge sharing and dialogue in advancing strategic investment partnerships in Belize, while promoting enterprise development through increased Belizean exports within Mexico.

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