After being closed to foreign visitors for half a year, Belize is opening back up to tourism on October 1, 2020. This is one of several Central American countries opening its borders again–with safe travel restrictions–but it’s the biggest news since there are no nationality caveats. Also, unlike destinations such as El Salvador and Honduras, it’s filled with professionally staffed luxury resorts for you to enjoy.
If you’re planning a trip, don’t book your Belize flight without checking the official requirements here. I’m not going to list those specifics since they’re bound to evolve, but as with most destinations these days, you’ll need to fill out a health form, then arrive with verification of a negative COVID-19 test or pay to take one upon arrival. You’ll also need to get doused with hand sanitizer a lot and wear a mask at all times where required. If you can’t live with any part of this, it’s best to stay home.
The Belize Safe Travel Lodging Situation
While the airport is opening October 1, that doesn’t mean every hotel is opening then. There is a verification process for tour companies and hotels, first of all, with only the approved ones showing the proper precautions allowed to take bookings. Naturally, hotels and resorts are required to demonstrate advanced cleaning and sterilization procedures for safe travel and require masks to avoid airborne virus transmission. There are capacity controls for some establishments.
Also, October is the tail end of the hurricane season, so some resorts are waiting a bit. Last, some wanted to see how things played out and learn from others what is working and what’s not before putting their staffers in contact with arriving foreigners. Peruse our reviews of the best Belize hotels, but get in touch with them if an opening date is not listed.
One of those not opening until November 1 is beachfront Chabil Mar. Since the high season in Placencia doesn’t normally kick in until the second half of November anyway, they are opening a month later than the airport is.
Resort Precautions and Keeping Your Distance
On top of the enhanced cleaning procedures and the need to keep your hands clean, the layout and procedures at your next vacation lodging spot are going to make a difference now. Chabil Mar Villas displays a lot of the attributes that are going to be important for travelers that are concerned about the risk of travel and staying in a resort.
1) 21 individual villas all have their own kitchen and outdoor grills are available.
2) Resort facilities are not open to outside guests.
3) All dining spaces are outside and guests can have meals delivered poolside, on the pier, or on their own balcony.
4) Placencia Village, a few minutes away, can be reached by bike, golf cart, or a shuttle van limited to four passengers.
5) A limited number of guests shares two pools, 400 feet of beach, paddleboards, and kayaks all outdoors.
Because of all this, their slogan is “Be at Ease at Chabil Mar.”
Advantages of Belize Travel
That’s just one example, but Belize has a lot going for it as a safe destination in these challenging times. Unlike a traditional mass-market tourism destination like Cancun, Punta Cana, or Miami, Belize has almost no big chain hotels and no high-rises lining the coast. Most properties are small-to-medium in size, with large condo-style rooms or individual villas. Even the most popular vacation spot, Ambergris Caye, has well-spaced resorts with plenty of room. In the rest of the country, resorts site on ample plots of land that aren’t crammed in next to each other. Some are even located in the middle of a jungle or on their own private island, with no risk of mixing with a hundred strangers coming in and out.
Belize is the most sparsely populated country in Central America. Even if all its hotels were full and there were cruise ships in port, less than half a million people would be in the country. The biggest city is more like a town, with a population of less than 70,000. There are no cruise ships in port right now though and it’s unlikely that every flight will be full for a while.
You can easily rent a car or hire a driver to get where you need to go. The hotel you’ll probably choose can arrange it for you. There are also internal flights, but they’re short and sweet, with limited flight times.
You’ll also face almost no virus risk from the local population. There have only been 21 deaths total as I write this and the case fatality rate has been a mere 1.29%. To put that in perspective, sparsely populated Wyoming has had 49 deaths, Vermont 58, and Maine 140. The locals are far more worried about you than you should be about them.
Very few destinations on this planet are completely risk-free, but Belize looks like one of the best bets for the near future, with a relatively short flight required to get there, especially if you are in a hub city. Check the options here: