Businesses must close at noon, curfew 8:00pm

POND ISLAND–Government will enforce a curfew as of 8:00pm today, Tuesday, ahead of category 4 Hurricane Irma. All schools are closed today until further notice. All businesses, with some exceptions, must close as of noon by order of Government.

All residents and visitors are to be off the roads by the curfew time and all hurricane preparation should be completed. The curfew will remain in effect until the hurricane has passed and damage to infrastructure has been assessed by the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). The centre will meet on Thursday at 9:00am to assess the situation.
Supermarkets, hardware stores, restaurants, pharmacies, gas stations and bakeries are allowed to remain open until 5:00pm, as they provide essential services/products in preparing for the hurricane.
Only restaurants on hotel properties are allowed to remain open after 5:00pm. Hotels are advised to make arrangements for staff on property.
Government offices are closed on today, Tuesday, September 5, until further notice. Emergency services will operate normally and will provide essential services as they prepare for the passing and aftermath of the hurricane.
All banks are closed today. Most ATMs will be available for cash withdrawals until 5:00pm.
The offices of Social and Health Insurance SZV, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, St. Maarten Laboratory Services N.V. (SLS) and utilities company GEBE are closed as of today until further notice. GEBE emergency numbers are 1-844-432-3212 and 544-3100. Residents are asked to consider, when calling, that lines will be busy due to the passing of the hurricane.
The Mental Health Foundation and Faraja Centre are closed today and Wednesday. Admission will stay open and, as some patients are discharged, only four patients will stay at the centre. The emergency phone line – 520-5556 – will stay active as long service is available.
Shelters should be used only as a last resort and will be open after the hurricane has passed for people who have been displaced. Shelters will remain open for up to 48 hours. The Belvedere Community Centre has been added as the country’s 11th shelter.
St. Maarten/St. Martin has been under a hurricane warning since 11:00am Monday. The same is in place for Saba, St. Eustatius, Anguilla, St. Barths, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda.
A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
At 11:00pm yesterday the eye of Hurricane Irma was located by a United States Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft near latitude 16.7 North, longitude 55.6 West, moving toward the West near 13mph (20km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue into today, followed by a turn toward the West-Northwest later in the day.
On the forecast track, the centre of Irma will move near or over portions of the Northeastern Caribbean tonight and early Wednesday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 140 mph (220 km/h) with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km).
Irma is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of three to six inches with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches across the local area, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. These rainfall amounts may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
Prime Minister William Marlin will address the country at 2:00pm today on the final preparations for the hurricane.

Source: The Daily Herald