FROM THE OFFICE OF MAYOR DONNA D. HOLADAY
Monday, March 16, 2020
City of Newburyport Update on Protocols and Processes for COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus
The City continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic carefully and we are taking direction from the Governor’s Office. There have been several recent developments that will change some of the protocols and processes laid out last week in order to better address City staff, volunteer members of boards and commissions as well as the general public with an aim to limit exposure to COVID-19 locally.
Our priority at this time is to protect both the public and our workforce during this unprecedented emergency. These deliberate, proactive steps are taken as a preventive measure in an effort to slow the transmission of COVID-19.
City of Newburyport Facilities
City Hall will be closed to the public, beginning Tuesday March 17 through Monday, March 30. During this time City offices will remain staffed to provide core municipal services. Departments will continue to be available by phone and email. Phone numbers for departments can be found at https://www.cityofnewburyport.com/departments.
City services are available online at www.cityofnewburyport.com and will continue to be available. Any business that can be completed online is strongly recommended for use during the shutdown. Online bill pay systems and vital records requests are available through the City website: www.cityofnewburyport.com/home/pages/online-services.
If you have an unavoidable need to conduct business in person with a City department, call that department in advance to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins will not be possible at any City building during this time. Please visit individual Department web pages to get in touch for these situations and follow their instructions.
The City’s Health Department is located in City Hall and will remain staffed to both coordinate with our local, regional, and state partners as well as provide information to the public. The Health Department Website also has useful information on the virus and links to the CDC and MA Dept. of Public Health websites: www.cityofnewburyport.com/covid-19. Contact information:
COVID-19 and other info: https://www.cityofnewburyport.com/health-department
Frank Giacalone, Director of Public Health
Email: [email protected]
Patty McAlarney, Office Manager
Email: [email protected]
Our Public Safety Departments will remain fully functional. However, walk-in service for non-emergencies has been suspended. We ask that you call the police station or fire station instead.
For police issues, as a temporary change, non-emergency matters may be reported over the phone and an officer will be assigned to follow-up with you. This applies to a variety of less serious offenses that ARE NOT IN PROGRESS. In these cases officers will be utilizing email for statements or photos needed for the report.
The DPS Water and Sewer Office at 16A Perry Way will follow City Hall protocols and will not be open to the public but will remain staffed and operational.
The Water Treatment Facility and Wastewater Treatment Plant will not be open to the public and will remain fully staffed and operational.
Trash and recycling collection services remain on schedule.
Senior Community Center, Library and Youth Services
The Senior Community Center is closed to the public beginning March 12. Meals on Wheels will continue to be distributed from the center and transportation for seniors. Additional grab-and-go break, lunch and snacks will start being distributed from the Nock/Molin on Wed. March 18th from 10 am to noon. Please see more information below. The tax preparation assistance has been cancelled.
The Newburyport Public Library and Newburyport Youth Services remains closed to the public until further notice.
Newburyport Public Schools are closed for three weeks beginning Monday, March 16 through Monday, April 6. The situation will be re-evaluated on a day-by-day basis.
The School Department and the City are currently making arrangements for daily distribution of meals to families with students in need as well as seniors. The program will begin Wednesday, March 18th and breakfast, lunch and snack items will be available for a grab-and-go bag to individuals and families from 10 am- Noon Monday through Friday. Please drive into the Nock/Molin middle school parking lot by the loading dock.
Public Meetings of Boards and Commissions
All gatherings and in-person public meetings of Boards and Commissions are suspended indefinitely. In addition, public buildings will be closed to the public and not available for any public meetings.
Until further notice, any public meetings that are absolutely necessary to hold during this period will be conducted through the GoToWebinar virtual meeting software. The software allows for board members and commissioners to deliberate virtually and also allows for public access and comment. Instructions and information to access meetings virtually will be provided through the posting of meetings on the City website.
Furthermore, no Board or Commission will hold a meeting unless absolutely critical to core governmental functions or due to statutory requirements. Any Board or Commission that deems it necessary to hold a virtual meeting may only do so by approval of the Mayor.
The Newburyport City Council will be establishing an Open Meeting Plan that will available on the City Council website. The Council will not be meeting in person and will be using virtual meeting software until further notice.
This public meeting policy was created based on the guidelines provided in Governor Baker’s Order issued on March 12th suspending certain provisions of Open Meeting Law (OML). The Order provides flexibility for municipalities in terms of OML and allows for some accommodations, including holding meetings virtually. The full text of the Governor’s Order can be found at the following link: www.mass.gov/doc/open‐meeting‐law‐order‐march‐12‐2020/download
City of Newburyport Employees
City employees will report to work as usual. Any employee who themselves or a member of their household is diagnosed or experiencing any viral symptoms (see CDC website) should not report to work. For any full or part time employees usual pay will continue. Any employee who travels from restricted/high risk areas must reach out to their supervisor and follow DPH requirements for isolation/quarantine until asymptomatic. An employee with high risk status should work with Human Resources on individual needs, doctor’s orders and potential leaves.
The restriction from employees attending out-of-state meetings or conferences remains in effect.
Businesses and General Public
The City will be locally administering the March 15 Order issued by Governor Baker that limits gatherings to 25 individuals and prohibits on-premises consumption of food or drink at bars and restaurants, beginning on March 17 and effective until April 6. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-state-of-emergency.
It is very important for everyone to recognize the urgency of the situation and avoid any unnecessary gatherings, errands, meetings, and travel. Limiting person to person contact and exercising social distancing is extremely critical in order to help limit the spread of the virus locally and reduce the strain on or local health providers. I can’t repeat enough how incredible important it is for all of us to do all we can to limit the spread of this virus. It will be a life or death situation for the large part of our population most susceptible and vulnerable to this disease.
We understand this will extremely difficult time for our local economy, including business owners and employees and their families. Limiting the spread of COVID-19 is the top priority for the City and the community as a whole and we will work with the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and our State Agencies to bring relief for our local economy in the coming weeks.
Finally, I’d like to thank all those individuals and organizations that have stepped up over the last few days and offered time, resources and services to those in need. Those more susceptible and vulnerable to this virus and those who will be economically affected by this pandemic will need help. Our Youth Services Department is maintaining a Good Neighbors Help Sign Up list for individuals looking to lend a hand and they will be matching that list with folks in need.
The situation is changing on an hourly basis, and we will provide updates and adjust our plans as necessary. We will continue to post our protocols and public health information on the City website, cityofnewburyport.com.
Stay safe everyone and please check on your neighbors, especially seniors.
Donna D. Holaday, Mayor