Hurricane Beryl forces widespread closures in Belize

The content originally appeared on: Amandala Newspaper

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Wed. July 3, 2024

As Hurricane Beryl approaches Belize, numerous businesses and other entities have taken proactive measures, announcing closures across the north, the cayes, the coast, and western regions of the country to ensure safety and minimize damage.

The Belize Port Authority has issued an official order for the closure of all ports within the country. By 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 4, all ports will be closed to the arrival and departure of ships. Foreign-flagged ships are required to depart Belize’s territorial waters by 7:00 a.m. on that day and seek safe harbor according to their emergency plans. Ships will not be allowed to enter Belizean ports and harbors until further notice from the Ports Commissioner.

The Senior Courts of Belize have also taken precautionary steps, with all High Court cases being adjourned from Wednesday, July 3, to Monday, July 8, except for bail hearings, which were scheduled for the morning of July 3. This decision ensures the safety of judges, staff, jurors, attorneys, and the public.

Several credit unions will close their branches in response to the impending storm. St. Francis Xavier Credit Union in Corozal and Saint Martin’s Credit Union in San Ignacio will close on July 3 at 3:00 p.m., while St. John’s Credit Union and Holy Redeemer Credit Union (HRCU) in Belize City will close on July 4 at noon. Most branches will reopen once the all-clear is given, but HRCU will reopen on Friday, July 5.

In terms of schools, so far, the University of Belize announced the closure of all its campuses as of 5:00 p.m. on July 2, with all their summer classes having been suspended until further notice.

Other institutions including banks will close at midday. Atlantic Bank informed the public that several branches and agencies will close at noon on Thursday, July 4, until further notice; these include branches in Corozal, San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Orange Walk, and others across the country. Despite the closures, ATMs will remain accessible.

Similarly, Atlantic Insurance has also announced closures for its San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Orange Walk, and Corozal branches due to the hurricane.

In the North, the Belize Sugar Industries Limited (BSI) has stopped receiving cane as of midday on July 1 to begin the liquidation process and activate its hurricane preparation plan. This process, essential for safety, was to be completed within two days, allowing employees enough time to make their own preparations.

Both the Belize City and Punta Gorda offices of the Fisheries Department’s Licensing Section will be closed starting Wednesday, July 3, until further notice.

Additionally, the Institute of Archaeology, National Institute of Culture and History (IA/NICH) has also informed the public that it will close several archaeological reserves, including Santa Rita, Cerro Maya, Altun Ha, and Lamanai, effective Thursday, July 4, due to the expected inclement weather.

As Hurricane Beryl nears, Belizeans are urged to follow the latest weather forecast and take the necessary precautions to stay safe.