New procedures for putting the nation on lockdown in the event of severe weather, tropical storm or hurricane warning have been approved by ministers, the Government announced today.
Under the revised policy, the Minister of Home Affairs is to issue a “National Shutdown Administrative Instruction” to shut down the country, following consultation with “the relevant agencies”, it said in a statement.
All statements on the situation will be made by government officials, supported by the Chief Information Officer and “ if necessary”, through a National Emergency Broadcast System.
The Barbados Meteorological Service, the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) and the Emergency Management Advisory Council would meet to advise the minister on the decision, the Government added.
The statement said: “The National Shutdown would be done on a staggered basis to ensure that key elements of national operations are followed to maintain an effective level of operation for as long as possible, while facilitating the systematic closure of non-essential operations.”
Visitors are to be given an opportunity to leave the island 36 to 48 hours ahead of the expected impact, depending on flight availability, the Government said as it outlined a schedule for the national shutdown.
It addedhazard sl educational institutions, including schools, pre-schools, day care centres (both for children and the elderly) and the Barbados Community College, will close 24 hours ahead of impact, while visitors will also be given a final opportunity to leave the island.
“All non-essential services of the public and private sectors must shut down 18 hours ahead of impact, while public shelters will be activated 12 to 18 hours ahead.
“Except for the emergency services, such as the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Barbados Fire Service, the Emergency Ambulance Service, hospitals and the Department of Emergency Management, the entire country will be on shut down six hours ahead of impact.”
Under the new policy, essential services in the private sector have been defined as utility companies, supermarkets, mini-marts, shops, pharmacies, general stores, including hardware stores and lumberyards, and public transport and telecommunication providers.
On the issue of issuing an all-clear, the Director of the Meteorological Services must determine that the weather system no longer poses a threat to Barbados, and after collaboration with the Director of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC).
“Public officers are expected to return to work during normal working hours following an all clear notification issued by the NEOC, after consultation with the Head of the Public Service and Cabinet Secretary,” the statement concluded.