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Jun 05

City Manager's Message: 6-5-2020: Phase Two Reopening Plans

Posted on June 5, 2020 at 3:48 PM by Don Mann

As promised, I am writing with an update on COVID-19 Phase Two reopening plans. The documents are too lengthy to include here, but I encourage you to read the guidance and executive orders at the governor’s webpage.

First and foremost, I would like to thank you for what you have done already to help the city respond to the COVID-19 crisis.  For quite some time, we have endured reduced personal interaction with family, friends and co-workers and the loss of all leisure and entertainment activities and this has certainly taken a toll.  Thankfully, those sacrifices have paid off. Although we have been significantly impacted, the health metrics for Virginia have continued to trend downward and in keeping with Governor Northam’s Executive Orders, we are ready to take the next step toward recovery as we enter Phase Two today, Friday, June 5.

To be clear, although Phase Two starts today, our city buildings will not reopen to the public until Monday.  Even then, many of our services will continue to be offered via telecommunications and other means.   Most of you will be returning to normal work areas for the Monday opening.  If you have not already received instruction from your supervisor confirming the time that you are to report to work, please reach out to get this information as soon as possible.
 
In Phase Two, no gathering may exceed 50 individuals, but a number of business and recreation facilities will be allowed to newly open or increase capacities:
  • Restaurants, breweries, and other similar establishments which have been restricted to outdoor dining will be allowed to serve indoor diners at 50% of the lowest load capacity, provided that all other guidance is met, tables are spaced at least 6 feet apart and employees working in customer-facing areas wear face coverings.
  • Non-essential retail businesses will be allowed to reopen under restrictions similar to those outlined for dining establishments.
  • Fitness and exercise facilities can operate at the lesser of 30% lowest load capacity or 50 patrons and physical distancing must be maintained at 10 feet.
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools may be open only for lap swimming, diving, exercise and instruction and must be limited to no more than 3 swimmers per lane, spaced at least 10 feet apart.
  • Hot tubs, spas, splash pads and interactive play features and indoor and outdoor playgrounds must remain closed.
  • Personal care businesses such as beauty salons and barber shops are limited to 50% of lowest load capacity with a number of additional restrictions.
  • Our beaches will remain open with restrictions unchanged.
  • Outdoor recreational and entertainment venues and public and private social clubs will be allowed to reopen with restriction as will indoor and outdoor recreational sports.
Certain indoor recreational and entertainment businesses are required to remain closed to include: theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, bowling alleys, skating rinks, amusement parks, arts and crafts facilities, and escape rooms.
 
Again, this is a very broad overview and does not provide the many restrictions that apply to each category. Please reference the guidance itself for more detailed information.
 
I know that I have touched on this information before, but since reopening is fast approaching, I want to ensure that everyone knows what to expect.  You will soon receive guidelines from Human Resources on how to perform a health self-assessment check at home before coming to work each day and about how and when to use temperature check stations that will be set up for each department so that we can do our best to ensure that each of us is healthy when reporting to work.  Finally, I need to stress the importance of wearing face coverings when we return to work. Unless physically distanced at 6 feet apart or greater in private work areas and conference rooms, all employees should be wearing face masks that cover the mouth and nose while in city buildings.  Again, cloth masks have been provided for each employee.  The governor has also required the public to wear face coverings in our buildings.  I remind you that there will be members of the public and co-workers that are exempt from wearing face covering and we must continue to treat everyone with respect and empathy.
 
Our Public Works Department has been doing an outstanding job of cleaning and disinfecting our buildings and these efforts will increase as we return to our workplaces.  In addition to daily cleaning, several times a week our crews will be performing after hours disinfectant fogging of high traffic areas in our buildings.  Of course, each of us will also be expected to regularly clean our workspaces and commonly touched surfaces. 
 
It has been a while since we served the public directly and as we begin to incrementally resume in-person services, we will be wearing devices which hide our facial expressions, especially our smiles.  As a result, it will be vitally important that we are mindful of our voice tone and inflection and go out of our way to communicate sensitivity and to increase our levels of customer service and attention to offset the challenges that we will face in communicating with our customers.
 
Dependent on trends and additional guidance from the Governor’s Office, we expect to be in Phase Two for two to four weeks.  I look forward to beginning to see some of you in person in the coming weeks.  I will be smiling under my mask!
 
- Mary

Governor's executive actions: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/executive-actions/

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