Government is making headway with the national shutdown policy.
Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson announced that the National Shutdown and Reactivation Policy framework and standing operating procedures has been approved by Cabinet.
The policy, which came under scrutiny in 2016, caused much public debate after a number of businesses remained open during the passage of Tropical Storm Matthew, despite Government’s shutdown order.
Speaking at a news conference to mark the start of the 2019 Hurricane Season, Hinkson disclosed that any national shutdown will be done on a systematic and “staggered basis”.
“This will ensure that key elements of national operations are allowed to maintain an effective level of operation for as long as possible while at the same time facilitating the systematic closure of non-essential operations,” he explained.
According to the policy, schools and daycare facilities will be closed first. This will be followed by non-essential public service operations or institutions and non-essential private sector operations.
Noting the problems that arose with the private sector in 2016, Hinkson urged employers to abide by a disaster management plan and be considerate to the plight of their employees. He acknowledged that private sector businesses such as general stores, hardware stores, and supermarkets will be bustling with activity but cautioned private sector businesses to put the welfare of their staff first.
“Private sector entities shall close their operations taking into account the provision of their disaster management and business continuity plans. We urge the private sector to have continuity plans for after the disaster passes, we urge the private sector to have disaster management plans. . .
The private sector will close taking into account the security and operational procedures of the company or entity, taking into account most importantly the welfare of their employees and the need for them to take their own domestic precautions especially those living in flood-prone areas. We are asking employers to be caring.”
Since the policy does not have legislative effect, individuals who ignore the policy will not be penalized. However, Hinkson emphasized that the police will ensure that it is enforced.
“As of now, the police would be requested to enforce the policy because it is the safety of people we are talking about.” (KK)
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