Staying on the correct side of the line, City of Augusta Director of Development Services Matt Nazar walks down the main staircase Wednesday at Augusta City Center. Blue tape and arrows designate which side to use to go up and which to use to go down. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

AUGUSTA — The city will start the process of resuming operations as normal — albeit slowly — Monday.

Augusta City Manager Bill Bridgeo released his reopening plan Wednesday, outlining how city operations will open back up after being shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. Augusta City Center and many other facilities will reopen Monday, which is June 1, with requirements that both workers and members of the public wear masks.

While some facilities are opening Monday, others are not.

Lithgow Public Library won’t fully reopen to the public until July 13, and Augusta Civic Center won’t resume most of its events until state limits on the size of public gatherings are relaxed.

There was some debate about the mask requirement, Bridgeo said, but the city decided to do so to protect workers and the public from exposure to the easily-spread coronavirus.

“The goal here is to maintain a safe environment for both the public and for city employees and try to do it in a way that’s reasonable,” he said. “So we’ll see how it plays out, and in the end the goal remains to try to keep everybody safe as we work our way through this once-in-a-100-years-circumstance and get to a point, down the road, where hopefully there is a vaccine and proper treatment and the dangers have been greatly minimized.”

Other changes in place at City Center include reducing the public entrance to only the Cony Street side of the building, and those who enter will be met there by a city employee who will be limiting the number of people allowed in to maintain appropriate social distancing. A color-coded system of cards, which will be sanitized between uses, will indicate the type of service being accessed. Each service at City Center has a predetermined number of people that can be there at the same time while ensuring social distancing regulations are being met.

Newly-installed Plexiglas dividers and windows seen Wednesday in the service area for the city clerk’s office at Augusta City Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

A maximum of 25 customers will be allowed into the building at any one time. Bridgeo said there are bound to be times when the number of people wishing to do business at city hall will exceed that limit, in which case they will have to wait their turn, in some cases outside.

Masks will be required for all, except for those who have a medical condition that would be exacerbated by doing so. Young children also will not be required to wear masks.

Plexiglas has been installed to separate city workers from the public in some areas, and markings placed on the floor will guide people to maintain the appropriate social distance.

In working with other administrators to devise the plan, Bridgeo said he went into it with the idea that most people want to do the right thing. But, social distancing requirements will be enforced.

“If an individual is acting irresponsibly and jeopardizing the safety of others, we will have to take whatever actions are necessary to address it,” he said. “That might be no more complicated than reminding a well-meaning person. Or it might be as severe as the police department (citing for trespassing) someone who is belligerent and purposely acting out.”

Mayor David Rollins said many of the requirements of the plan require people to police themselves, noting there won’t be anyone following them around to make sure they follow the rules. He likened it to golfers keeping their own score when they play, and the honor system.

“We’re all challenged now, to do what is right not only for yourself but more importantly your neighbors, the people you are going to be interacting with,” Rollins said.

Buker Community Center’s child care programs will begin a phased-in reopening starting Monday with 52 children, then 63 children June 15, 81 children June 29 and 105 children July 6. Children taking part in the programs won’t be required to wear masks.

Newly installed arrows and tape divide the up and down sides main staircase at Augusta City Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Community Services Director Leif Dahlin said protocols for utilizing the child care include parents signing a policy stating they will not bring their children in if they are showing any symptoms of sickness, daily health screening of participants and staff, and requiring children to stay with the same group — initially limited to 10 kids — and room each day.

As a licensed child care facility, Dahlin said they will follow strict licensing provisions and CDC guidelines.

“I do believe we will be the standard,” he said. “There are always risks, but we believe they are mitigated by the strict protocols we will adhere to, to help families get back to work and children once again interacting.”

Beth Sproul-Lebrun, child care director for the city, said the state does not require children attending licensed child care programs to wear masks, but families may have their child wear one if they prefer.

New signs seen Wednesday at city clerks office at Augusta City Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Meetings of city councilors, planning and school board members, and others will begin returning from Zoom meetings to in-person meetings as soon as Tuesday’s City Council budget workshop.

The Fort Western Room at the Augusta Civic Center can host safely socially distanced in-person meetings, as long as attendance doesn’t exceed 50 people.

Other than those meetings and an ongoing Red Cross blood drive series, most public events at the Augusta Civic Center won’t take place until larger public gatherings are allowed in Maine. Such gatherings, according to Development Director Matt Nazar, won’t be allowed until phase 4 of Gov. Janet Mills’s plan, and no specific timeframe has yet been established for that to take place.

Historic Old Fort Western will also open to the public Monday. Due to coronavirus-related restrictions on out-of-state travelers, city officials expect about half as many visitors as normal this summer, likely around 2,000.

Typically open seven days a week during peak summer, the fort will be open fewer days per week this year. Visitors also will not be allowed in the more tightly confined part of the fort, as well as maintain safe social distances from each other and staff.

While Lithgow Public Library won’t fully reopen until mid-July, starting on June 15, patrons may request to check out materials by phone or the MINERVA online catalog. Those materials will then be available for curbside pickup. In addition, also effective June 15, the community meeting room will open to nine people at a time, and computers will be available there for adult users.

The book drop will reopen Monday to begin taking in the 6,500 items currently checked out. The returned items will be left in quarantine for 72 hours before being handled, per Maine Center for Disease Control recommendations.

The full Augusta reopening plan is viewable on the city’s website.

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