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Mar 24

City manager's message: Governor extends closings to April 23

Posted on March 24, 2020 at 2:40 PM by Don Mann

March 24, 2020 — Last night, the governor issued additional guidance for Virginians relative to Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. I am attaching a link to the news release and an excellent piece that covers frequently asked questions relating to his order that you may find helpful both on a professional and personal level. 

To summarize, and quoting from the governor’s news release, “all gatherings of more than 10 people are banned statewide, beginning at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 [and through 11:59 PM on Thursday, April 23rd]. This does not include gatherings that involve the provision of health care or medical services, access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; operations of the media; law enforcement agencies; or operations of government [emphasis added to highlight the portion relevant to us all].” Additionally, all schools will remain closed through the end of this academic year.  The governor has also specifically ordered closures of the following for the period noted above.

  • Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers;
  • Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities;
  • Beauty salons, barber shops, spas, massage parlors, tanning salons, tattoo shops, and any other location where personal care or personal grooming services are performed that would not allow compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain 6 feet apart;
  • Racetracks and historic horse racing facilities;
  • Bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, indoor shooting ranges, public and private social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement.

All of these announcements are in keeping with the absolute need to ensure as much social distancing as possible to help flatten the curve of this disease so that our medical systems can appropriately handle COVID-19 and other sick patients. I have included a link to an outstanding, 8-minute video recommended by our health department for better understanding the reasoning and science behind these recommendations. I urge each of you to review this video at your earliest convenience. 

As a result of these announcements, I will be announcing the continued closure of public facilities (beyond our initial announcement of 3/16-3/29, 2020) until further notice. I will, of course, review the status of the buildings as new information from the governor and Health Department officials becomes available. 

I am sure you are each wondering what all of this means for you as an employee. As I have noted on multiple occasions, our goal is to keep all employees engaged in meaningful work so that you can continue to be paid. Your senior leadership have been engaged in identifying the best way to do this while practicing social distancing. To help achieve best practices with social distancing, we are encouraging all employees who can telework with approved departmental procedures begin to do so as soon as possible. Your department head and/or immediate supervisor will be confirming your status in this regard. For those of you who do need to report to work, please know we are going to be continuing enhanced cleaning/sanitizing procedures. We ask that you practice social distancing, of 6 or more feet, as you interact with your peers. Your department head and/or immediate supervisor will reinforce the need to do so. 

Please understand that a pandemic is unlike other emergencies, meaning that there are a greater number of employees that will be deemed essential during this pandemic response. As I have previously stated, our national, state and local responses will be more like a marathon than a sprint, meaning that we are going to need employees to possibly work in new ways — possibly even in support of departments other than your home one.  

My commitment to each of you remains to do all we reasonably can to protect you and your paycheck. I know you will do all you reasonably can to help our community during this difficult time. I thank you in advance for your understanding and continued dedication as we all navigate new territory. 

Governor’s news release: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2020/march/headline-855292-en.html
FAQs on governor's order: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/governor-of-virginia/pdf/Frequently-Asked-Questions-Regarding-EO-53.pdf
Explanation of flattening the curve (video): https://youtu.be/fgBla7RepXU 

— Mary

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