BVI News

Emergency shelters must not have maximum occupancy this season

With the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season arriving amid a viral pandemic, a recommendation has come for fewer persons to be accepted into each of the respective emergency shelters to help stave off any potential spread of COVID-19.

“If the shelter can hold 40 people, you send 35 people, for example. So that they can maintain their social distance. You cannot just send everybody at a shelter and expect social distancing to take place,” Chief Environmental Health Officer Lionel Michael reasoned.

He said this would, therefore, require authorities to find out the holding capacity of each of the local shelters.

Michael told BVI News on Monday that more than 20 shelters will be inspected this week to ensure protocols such as the installation of handwashing stations and social distancing mechanisms are in place.

He said the respective shelter management teams would also be required to carry out disinfection initiatives.

DDM moving away from ‘congregate shelters’ this year

Because of COVID-10, the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is also taking a different approach this year.

Information & Education Manager for the DDM, Chrystall Kanyuck-Abel said: “As opposed to what they call congregate shelters, which are everyone goes into a church hall and is in one location, what they have done is to try to find places where people would be able to stay in their family units so that they would be able to maintain social distancing that way.”

“So it is not a matter of more shelters per se, but more strategic locations, places that would be more conducive to social distancing; that’s the approach,” she added.

Kanyuck-Abel was not yet able to specify how many shelters have been identified so far but said the information will be made public soon.

‘Stay in heightened state of preparedness’, residents told

Meanwhile, Premier Andrew Fahie has urged residents and businesses to “remain in a heightened state of preparedness for the upcoming season”.

He said the team at the Public Works Department has already begun to carry out ghut-clearing exercises and potential shelters around the territory, including on the sister islands are being sought.

“Let us all continue to gather our supplies and review our home and work plans. Make sure to take into account how we can maintain our social distance protocols and how we will maintain a sanitised environment to keep ourselves and everyone safe. This is very important,” he stated.

The season runs from June 1 to November 30.

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

7 Comments

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  1. This is ridiculous says:

    In case of emergencies social distancing is really not the most important thing.

    You rather be out in the open facing a hurricane than be in close proximity to other people.

    Common sense people! This new regular is getting way out of hand. Start using your brain please.

    Like 16
    Dislike 1
  2. Kilowatt says:

    Don’t forget to ask the NPD where are the dozen generators the the U.K. donated for shelters after Irma.

    Like 3
    Dislike 3
  3. E. Leonard says:

    This is an unprecedented time for the VI, for it has to be led effectually and critical functions must be skillfully managed while facing the threat of a perfect storm (others may debate that a storm cannot be perfect), ie, Covid-19, tanking economy and a predicted above normal hurricane season.

    Moreover, all reasonable and practical actions to protect the populace from contracting the deadly Coronavirus must be taken. Consequently, Environmental Dept. should inspect rideout buildings for compliance with best management practices.

    Similarly, a civil/structural engineer should inspect rideout buildings for structural soundness. It is a false security to put people in buildings that have not been rated to withstand the wind load of the approaching storm.

    For example, putting people in a facility rated for a category 2 hurricane to rideout a category 4 storm could prove disastrous. Additionally, to attain social distancing in public rideout buildings, more structurally sound buildings may be needed.

  4. Protection of life says:

    So im running in the eye of a Cat 6 and the shelter is gonna say sorry full up or you haven’t washed your hands?

  5. Disinterested says:

    “Emergency shelters must not have maximum occupancy this season.” Head line could be misleading. At first glance, I thought it meant unlimited occupancy so I went WTF.

    • @Disinterested says:

      It shouldn’t even be an article in the news… why are they even mentioning about maximum occupancy and social distancing for emergency shelters? Imagine having to run from a hurricane, but then having to think twice about which shelter would be full or, or have adequate safe distancing measures in place. In the middle of a hurricane “Hey Guys before you get in this shelter, you better sanitize… oh! and no mask no entry! 🙂

  6. @Disinterested says:

    It shouldn’t even be an article in the news… why are they even mentioning about maximum occupancy and social distancing for emergency shelters? Imagine having to run from a hurricane, but then having to think twice about which shelter would be full or, or have adequate safe distancing measures in place. In the middle of a hurricane “Hey Guys before you get in this shelter, you better sanitize… oh! and no mask no entry! 🙂

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