Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in Belize, Ambergris Caye residents have been following additional rules and regulations separate from the rest of the country, set by Mayor Daniel Guerrero and Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr. (Area Representative and Minister of Tourism) along with the task force of the Emergency Operation Center. Their explanation has been that the island needs different rules from the rest of the country in order to protect its residents.
Ambergris Caye residents have just gone with the flow all this time, although there are some who have been speaking their mind against these additional rules. It is until yesterday, April 28, 2020, that it seems that these different rules were picked up by residents in the mainland after a press release from the San Pedro Town Council was posted online. One person in particular voicing her disagreement with the release was Belize City attorney-at-law Audrey Matura.
She stated on her Facebook Profile:
“SAN PEDRO POLITICIANS ACTING ILLEGAL - Please note that the content of this press release in many aspects is ILLEGAL. Manuel Heredia and Mayor Guerrero DO NOT have the lawful authority to change anything in SI #62 which is the law at present for the entire country and the last time I checked San Pedro, Ambergris Caye is part of the country. I see they have created their own opening hours and have even unlawfully allowed laundromats and ice cream shops to open!”
Matura tagged a message to Belize’s Commissioner of Police Chester Clyde Williams urging him to act upon this “illegal act”. Late this afternoon, Commissioner Williams can be quoted that he declared that a schedule of opening hours for businesses announced by the San Pedro Town Council via release are “inconsistent with the State of Emergency and are illegal and none enforceable.” He affirmed that the state of emergency regulations in force apply to the entire country and only central government can change them.
“We have one country and one central government,” stated Commissioner Williams. “There is currently in force one state of emergency that governs the entire country; therefore those measures being implemented in San Pedro are inconsistent with the State of Emergency and are illegal and none enforceable.”
In an interview with Belize City media, COMPOL Williams stated that he has already addressed the issue with Minister Heredia in which he will rectify the situation by informing his constituency that residents of Ambergris Caye can only follow the provisions of Statutory Instrument #62 of 2020, set by the Government of Belize and not those recently posted by the San Pedro Town Council.
Statutory Instrument #62 can be viewed in the following links:
SI No. 62 of 2020 can be viewed at: https://www.pressoffice.gov.bz/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/SI-No-62-of-20...
The summary of SI No. 62 of 2020: https://www.pressoffice.gov.bz/summary-of-statutory-instrument-no-62-of-...