Expat Diary: What is Life Like in Belize During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Laura Diffendal, IL Belize Correspondent

What is Daily Life Like at the Moment in Belize?

We have had two confirmed positive cases as of today. Both cases were, thankfully, on the island of Ambergris Caye. I say thankfully, because it seems to be easier to cut off an island than it is the mainland. Ambergris Caye is on 30-day quarantine. So for the last five days, no one is allowed to leave or come to the island of Ambergris Caye. I am living on the island so I am on the most restrictive rules at this time. The rest of Belize is in a quarantine, but it is less restrictive than the island.

How are you Passing the Time?

I run two businesses in Belize, so the last two weeks have been very busy. Here in Belize, we have small villages and towns so it is a bit of a unique experience. We are better able to handle the needs of the community, because we are not dealing with millions of people. Most business owners are concerned with being able to pay their employees at least something during this time. So much of my time now is spent figuring out a plan so that we can reopen as soon as possible, and to be financially prepared. I am quarantined at the house, so I am making sure that each day is spent on productive tasks, and I'm also trying to make time for yoga. I have also spent a lot of time on social media as I have countless groups from all over the country that I am keeping updated.

Is Public Transport Still Running?

At this time on the island, there is no public transport. This is not such a big deal because the majority of people can use their golf carts, bikes, or just walk to the stores. There is also no water ferry to the island right now. There are still buses running on the mainland and people on the mainland are allowed to move freely. There are no international flights into Belize for the next 30 days.

Is Belize Prepared for Coronavirus?

Belize is doing its best to prepare for the virus. Although we are a developing country with limited resources, the small numbers of people we are dealing with is actually making this somewhat manageable thus far. There are some wonderful public and governmental programs that are making sure anyone hungry is taken care of.

How are you Preparing for the Future?

I am preparing for the future by making sure that I do everything humanly possible to provide for our staff on the island. I am also trying to assist with the food gathering programs for the poorest in the country.

How is Your Community Working Together?

There are many community programs working together here. Hope Haven has been wonderful and is handing out food to those who are most in need. Everyone in the community is supporting each other, and that been one of the biggest positives of being in a small close-knit community.

How are you Communicating with People?

I have friends from back in the U.S., business friends on the island, and social friends all over the country. I am using a combination of Facebook groups, WhatsApp groups, and Facebook Messenger to keep in contact with everybody. My friends have just started to use the Zoom app to have virtual parties and happy hours.

Can you go to the Store?

Yes, on Ambergris Caye we are allowed to go to the shops and there are also delivery services for those that want to self-quarantine.

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