Government is moving to immediately examine its legal powers amid concerns about Barbadians being summoned to work in the middle of today’s storm warning.
Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite appeal for employers to have a heart and place the safety of their staff above the bottom line.
Speaking at the Department of Emergency Management’s Warrens, St. Michael headquarters, moments after warnings were discontinued and the all clear given following the passage of Tropical Storm Chantal, the official said he had contacted the Solicitor General on the matter and would be pursuing it further either today or tomorrow.
Brathwaite said it was reasonable for companies to call their employees to work once the all clear was given, but he was concerned about people whose employment was not considered an “essential service” being on the streets when emergency officials had advised them to stay home until it was safe to venture out.
“I actually called the Solicitor General not long ago because I said I needed to look at the strict legal position on that. If you ignore the strict legal position let’s use the moral and sensible position. If we are saying that there are storm conditions and that persons should not venture out until we give the all clear which is more important, earning a dollar or saving someone’s life, he asked?
“So on a strict moral position I really have a problem with workers being asked to come out when in fact we are saying that there are storm conditions, which means it is dangerous and we are encouraging you to stay at home and you are being encouraged to come out on what are essentially non essential services.
“The strict legal position … we will examine it later today or tomorrow because it is something that we have been looking at in terms of what powers do we have outside of the emergency powers to prevent persons from going onto the street. I know we have that discussion and I will clarify it and ensure that we are all clear of what’s the strict legal position,” he added. Brathwaite also said that beyond the advice of the Barbados Meteorological Services emergency officials led by the Department of Emergency gave the all clear after a thorough examination of what the situation “on the ground” was.
“If per chance, as could happen, that we have serious blockages across the highways etcetera obviously we can’t give the all clear and that’s why there is a time lag between his science and our feedback on what’s happening on the ground,” he noted.
After announcing this morning that it was safe for Barbadians to leave home, Brathwaite said officials were still “asking residents to be cautious because it will continue to rain for a little while”. Earlier on the minister had also urged the public to “take our procedures and our protocols more seriously”, telling them “my message is that until we give a definitive all clear then you should stay indoors”.
“Parliament, for example, was scheduled to sit this morning at 10 o’clock (but) we took the decision as leaders that we cannot have Parliament because there is no all clear. So that’s really my message,” he noted. (SC)