Update on La Soufrière volcano by Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams and Director of the Seismic Research Centre, Professor Richard Robertson – April 12, 2021. (PMO)

There will be a gradual reopening of the country as it continues to be affected by the ash fall from the La Soufriere volcano in neighbouring St. Vincent.

Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, made this announcement during a press conference tonight, to update the country on the national clean-up efforts which got underway today.

He explained that this was necessary given the unpredictable nature of the volcano, while noting that regional seismologists have said the eruptions and ash fall could continue for an unspecified time.

The Minister said the following businesses will be allowed to open from tomorrow, Tuesday, April 13: village and community shops, supermarkets, bakeries, hardware stores, pharmacies, gas stations and export manufacturers.  Essential services will also be operational, and there will be reduced public transportation services tomorrow.

However, polyclinics, markets, the Grantley Adams International Airport and the Bridgetown Port will remain closed to allow for extensive cleaning of those compounds.

“Polyclinics must have a certain standard of health and safety and if you have a situation where dust is prevalent all through the polyclinics that will compromise the delivery of health care. A number of polyclinics experienced significant difficulties today, and we are prioritising the cleaning of the clinics tomorrow, so hopefully [they can] open Wednesday or Thursday,” Minister Abrahams said, stressing that ensuring the safety of the medical staff and patients was paramount.

He also explained that while the volcanic ash and small craft warning from the Barbados Meteorological Office had been reduced to an advisory, it was still unsafe for the island’s ports of entry to reopen to air and sea traffic at this time.

According to Minister Abrahams, despite increased visibility this afternoon, not only were both ports in need of extensive cleaning, but he pointed out that the airport runway needed to be cleared, as the markings were not visible due to the high levels of ash.

The Minister of Home Affairs further stated that efforts were underway to reopen the sections of the public service which cater to the public on Wednesday, April 14, and all other departments on Thursday, April 15.

He, however, reminded persons that while those were the timelines for which Government was aiming, the situation could change based on the information relayed about the impact further volcanic activity could have on Barbados.

“There is a caveat. This is subject to conditions at any given time. Remember, we get 90 minutes warning, so while we may have indicated that things should open or things are allowed to open, when we get that warning we would try to advise you as early as possible to what it is looking like,” Minister Abrahams reiterated.

nya.phillips@barbados.gov.bb

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