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State of emergency being lifted – curfew to remain

Newly appointed governor Augustus Jaspert and Premier Dr D Orlando Smith during a recent meeting. Government photo

A month after Hurricane Irma caused widespread wreck across the British Virgin Islands, the territory is ending the state of emergency that had been declared, but it will continue with a curfew imposed.

The change is being made today as lawmakers gather for the first post-Irma sitting of the House of Assembly, which is taking place at a temporary location because the permanent building is among those badly damaged.

“We intend to have an end to the state of emergency and have it replaced by a Curfew Act… The current state of emergency ends tonight at midnight. And, once we pass the Curfew Act, then the curfew can be in place for as long as the government thinks it is important and appropriate,” said Premier Dr D Orlando Smith at a press briefing in Road Town.

Governor Augustus Jaspert, who co-hosted the press briefing this morning, shared the premier’s position. “My intention is to end the state of emergency as soon as possible…” he said.

Curfew concerns

Premier Smith, in the meantime, told journalists that he is aware of the concerns residents have been raising about the current curfew, which runs from 8pm to 6am daily.

He said he will consider the concerns more carefully after the Curfew Act is passed in the legislature to lift the state of emergency and continue the current curfew.

“We have heard the sentiments; we have heard some people saying that it (the curfew) should be later. So there are very different views as to whether the curfew should remain in place or how long it should be. These matters will be considered as soon as we have completed the House of Assembly matter dealing with the incoming Act,” the premier further told journalists.

He stated that the curfew is still important.

“It is indeed that the curfew is important, and it is important that it continues to be in place a little while longer so that we can maintain law and order that businesses hopefully can feel safe…” added Premier Smith.

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