Polyclinics will be closed before the storm, but the Queen Elizabeth Hospital remains open, Home Affairs Minister Edmund Hinkson has disclosed.
He said that all other emergency and essential services such as the Barbados Fire Service (BFS) and Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) would continue to function. Hinkson reminded Barbadians that no publicly-owned nor privately-owned transport must not be on the streets after noon.
He disclosed that the island’s sole airport – Grantley Adams International – would shut down at 12 noon and while a few flights arrived and departed here this morning, the majority have been cancelled.
The Minister told reporters at a press conference that arrangements had also been made to ensure the safety of tourists, with some being transferred to other hotels.
The Home Affairs minister also appealed to communities to be their brothers’ keeper and ensure that the most vulnerable, especially people with disabilities are accounted for and looked after.
Hinkson also announced that the various category 1 shelters were open and a number of elderly people had already been taken to shelters.
The Minister also issued a caution to all business owners against keeping their workers on the job after the 10 a.m. national shutdown.
“We have not legislated this. We feel that the good sense and judgment of Barbadians would prevail and that there would not be any business owners out there still selling…because as we said, the sanctity and safety of physical self now is of primary importance. Therefore, all workers who would have come out to work in the private sector this morning, should be on their way home or home by now,” he contended.
He reminded the employers that it is their duty to ensure their employees can get home safely. Hinkson suggested that these owners should make arrangements for their staff to get home if they faced difficulty in doing so, either due to a lack of public transport or not having anyone to collect them.
The Minister also said that the telecommunications providers may have to shut down their equipment at some point during the storm in order to protect it and for it to be functional after the system passes.
The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) and the Barbados Light and Power Company (BL&P) have also signalled they too may have to take similar action.
Police officers were seen at various strategic junctions directing traffic and mobile patrols were also evident, for example, just outside a congested Sol Service Station in Warrens, St Michael late this morning.
At various commercial centres across the island, shutters and water resistant sand bags were put in place and scores of householders living in fragile wooden structures sought refuge at family members residing in more stable accommodation. (EJ)