WATERVILLE — The city of Waterville mandated Monday that all restaurants and bars close immediately and that City Hall be closed to the public, in accordance with guidance issued by the federal government, a city task force announced.

The city will issue further guidance within 48 hours about operations moving forward, according to an announcement issued by the city’s COVID-19 Task Force, which met at 3 p.m. Monday.

The media was not allowed to attend the meeting.

Silver Street Tavern owner Charlie Giguere said just before 7:30 p.m. Monday he saw a post on Council Chairman Erik Thomas’ personal Facebook page saying all restaurants and bars must close immediately — the day before St. Patrick’s Day.

“I was not notified personally,” Giguere said. “I’m taking exception to the amount of notice given. We should have been given 24-hour notice. We received produce delivery today. I have produce I can’t use, on the day before a holiday.”

Thomas said in a telephone interview after Monday’s two-hour meeting that any action taken at meetings will be shared with the Morning Sentinel in news releases.

He said Waterville is a service center that is larger than many surrounding communities and a place where people gather, so the city must try to help ensure the health and safety of everyone in the area.

“We need to take the lead on ensuring the city’s residents and surrounding communities are safe,” he said. “We’re asking the public to have a little patience with us. Obviously, it’s a situation that is evolving quickly, and we’re all kind of flying by the seat of our pants to do the best that we can.”

The task force’s announcement reads: “Effective immediately city hall will be closed to the public. Essential public employees will continue to work, and we will evaluate how best to deliver necessary services to the public moving forward. Essential city departments that will continue to operate include the police department, fire department, public works, and the airport although public access will be limited.”

The City Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday to update councilors on city planning moving forward, but the task force asked that only those with business at the meeting attend.

“All public meetings have been canceled as we evaluate what meetings will be necessary moving forward, and how those meetings can be held in a way that preserves public health,” the announcement reads.

The city plans to revoke any public gathering permits for events to take place in the next eight weeks, it says.

An emergency operations center has been established at the city’s Fire Department to serve as a command center for the city’s COVID-19 Task Force.

Mayor Nick Isgro and Thomas are co-spokesmen for the task force and will communicate information to the public, according to the release. The task force is scheduled to meet daily.

Along with Thomas and Isgro, task force members are City Manager Michael Roy; Waterville Deputy police Chief Bill Bonney; Fire Chief Shawn Esler; Waterville Schools Superintendent Eric Haley; Maureen Ausbrook; City Councilor Rick Foss, R-Ward 5; Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce President Kimberly N. Lindlof; and Brian Clark, vice president of planning at Colby College. State Rep. Bruce White, D-District 109, which represents part of Waterville, attended the meeting but is not yet a force member, though Thomas said he likely will become a member.

The task force announcement reported that Waterville is considering changes to city polices that would help preserve public health.

“The city is in constant communication with local hospitals and is working to develop a contingency plan for coming public health needs,” the announcement reads. “The city is establishing lines of communication with local grocery stores, food banks, meal programs and churches in order to ensure continuity of their services.”

The city also is working with the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce to identify state and federal resources that may be available to mitigate the financial impact on local business, according to the release.

“This is a fluid situation, so the city is still identifying issues that will need to be addressed, and we will be communicating policy updates daily,” the announcement reads.

 

ANSON

The town of Anson announced on Monday that effective immediately, town buildings are closed to public entry until March 27.

In a notice sent out Monday, residents were notified that, following the schools’ pandemic plan, the town will change its operations so that no customer contact is involved.

“We are attempting to get ahead of this in order to avoid the need to shut down entirely at the town office,” the notice says. “We are a small staff. One exposure will close our entire office.”

Services at the town office will be conducted curbside, and the town administrator, Tammy Murray, recommends contacting the office before arriving. Residents are also encouraged to do registrations, vehicle renewals and all hunting/fishing licensing online and to call ahead for a vital records request.

“With these trying times, let’s not panic, and try to stay positive. In a small community like ours, neighbors helping each other out by all doing their part is the best way to get through this ordeal.” the letter says.

 

MADISON

In Madison, the town manager issued a letter to town residents saying that the town office will remain open as a resource for residents, though residents are strongly encouraged to utilize the online site. All recreation programs are on hold through March 31. Non-essential meetings that include 10 or more are being rescheduled.

Madison Public Library will be open on a limited basis. Those who need to schedule a book pick up or drop off should call 696-5626.

Public Works personnel will continue to work, though there will be no public access to the town garage. Anyone with road concerns or questions should call the highway garage at 696-5387.

Those seeking General Assistance should call the town office at 696-3971 to process applications accordingly.

“Our goal is to ensure the safety of our employees and our residents in the most responsible ways possible,” Madison Town Manager Tim Curtis said in the letter. “We strongly encourage residents to follow best practices for hand washing, social interaction and self care.”

 

FAIRFIELD

It was announced Monday that the town of Fairfield will close its municipal buildings to the public until March 31 due to the coronavirus.

The buildings that will be barred to the public include the community center, the library, the town office, the fire department and police station except in emergency situations, and the town garage.

“Buildings will be closed to the public, but they’ll still be staffed as long as they can be,” Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said. “We’ll still be providing services. Most things can be done online, but we’ll be answering phone calls and emails and assisting folks with the online process if needed.”

The library has canceled all programs, but residents can still arrange pickups for books, DVDs and other items by phone.

The council meeting scheduled for March 25 has been canceled.

Flewelling said that people can arrange to meet town office staff in person on a case by case basis if needed.

Another concern for Flewelling is the well-being of the town’s first responders.

“One big concern is that the first responders stay in a safe environment,” Flewelling said. “They’re carrying on as usual, but we have requested that if folks need to call into 911, that they let us know ahead of time if they or anyone living with them have symptoms. We know that can’t always happen, but we want to make sure we’re not exposing folks as much as we can.”

 

ST. ALBANS

Staff members at the St. Albans Town Office are making adjustments in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Town Manager Rick Fisher spent Monday planning to move the town office’s services online to cut down the in-person interaction between residents and staff.

Fisher also set up a website that provides updates and links to information regarding the virus.

“It is our responsibility and duty to protect your health, safety, and welfare and that overrides all other services we provide to you,” the website says. “We will do our best to keep your inconvenience to a minimum without jeopardizing your safety.”


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