The “very naughty” decision by some businesses to defy a state-declared national shutdown during the passage of Tropical Storm Matthew Wednesday has attracted the attention of Cabinet which will discuss the issue tomorrow.
Among those who will answer to the committee of senior ministers responsible for controlling Government policy is Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman, whose St Elmo’s Moon Town in St Lucy was among the businesses which opened Wednesday in defiance of the advice of the state-run Department of Emergency Management (DEM) that everyone should remain indoors until the all-clear was given.
Acting Prime Minister Richard Sealy told reporters Thursday morning at the DEM headquarters in Warrens, St Michael that the matter would be examined at Friday’s Cabinet meeting; however, he would need to hear directly from the various business owners before making any judgment.
When Barbados TODAY asked Kellman Wednesday to comment on Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite’s assertion that such businesses were irresponsible, the Member of Parliament for St Lucy contended that Brathwaite’s criticism did not pertain to him because he was simply accommodating “some people like any normal country shop would”.
Thursday, Managing Director of Carlton & A1 Supermarkets Andrew Bynoe shied away from the controversy, telling Barbados TODAY he did not wish to talk about his company’s decision to open for business during the national shutdown, while Managing Director of Chefette Restaurants Limited Ryan Haloute said the company would not add to its “closing notice” on Facebook which was posted on Tuesday, September 27 advising that “all our locations will close at 6 p.m. today, Tuesday, September 27, 2016. We regret any inconvenience and encourage everyone to be safe during the pending inclement weather”.
In a “reopening notice” which first appeared after 9 a.m. today the fast-food chain advised that all its locations would have reopened by midday Thursday.
However, the head chef at Lemongrass Noodle Bar & Grill in the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, Holetown, St James Sazula Weekes told Barbados TODAY Thursday afternoon that she had called out her staff because she was unaware of the national shutdown and that the mall was closed.
Weekes also said that the staff did not protest being called out to work.
At this morning’s news briefing Sealy said the Attorney General was looking into the issue with a view to possibly making it mandatory to comply with orders to shut down.
“It is always a touchy issue how we manage these events, but the decisions relating for example, to closing of businesses and closing schools was again for public safety and by way of information for members of the public, is not done on a whim.
“There is a committee composed of private sector, public sector individuals who work through the night and who assess based on the meteorological reports. We do these things in the interest of public safety, and I can say that the public has generally cooperated,” Sealy said.
“That is a very naughty issue and I know that it is receiving the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs also in his capacity as Attorney General . . . because some of what you are alluding to perhaps has to be looked at,” he added.
Meantime, Brathwaite said a preliminary examination of the issue revealed that while the protocols had worked over the years, there were “new actors” who needed to be brought up to speed.
“I think that one of the things that have come to the fore is that we have had protocols in place that have worked for us as a country for many, many years, but there are new actors that we probably need to get in to sit down with us . . . that everyone understands their role. If there is one thing that has come out of it, is the fact that we have new personnel who have never been part of this process before and we need to understand that [they] know their roles,”