There will be no need to reduce the number of people who can be housed in Category One hurricane shelters in this COVID-19 environment.
Acting Senior Medical Officer with responsibility for Disaster Management, Dr. Ingrid Cumberbatch, made this disclosure during a Hurricane Forum meeting last Wednesday.
She explained that while a reduction in the numbers being allowed in shelters was originally being considered, the spatial requirements per person would remain the same, as required for the physical distancing protocols being enforced under COVID-19.
“That means that the numbers in shelters will be maintained because it existed before,” she explained.
However, she noted that in light of the current COVID-19 environment, registration forms at hurricane shelters would include additional screening questions. She also pointed out that shelter wardens were set to undergo training in first aid.
Dr. Cumberbatch added that new protocols for shelters would include the wearing of masks, temperature checks and the sanitizing of hands.
In addition, she noted that there were also proposals to have a designated shelter for vulnerable persons, due to COVID-19. That shelter, she said, would also have a nurse present from the time of opening.
“We have also asked shelters to enhance their sanitizing abilities in areas such as the bathrooms,” she said. There are 31 Category One hurricane shelters, of which 19 are public, and 11 are privately owned.