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City of Gloucester Update – March 16, 2020 - COVID-19

Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker announced new guidelines for all Massachusetts residents to promote social distancing and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 which included:
  • Gatherings of any kind of more than 25 people at one time, in one place are banned.
  • All public and private schools in Massachusetts will close until at least Tuesday, April 7.
  • All bars and restaurants will only be able to serve takeout customers.
Given the rapidly changing circumstances surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19), the City of Gloucester is taking unprecedented precautionary measures to limit person to person contact and to slow the spread of the virus.

Beginning on Tuesday, March 17 the following City buildings – City Hall, City Hall Annex, Cape Ann Veterans Services Office, and the Department of Public Works Administrative Offices – will be closed to the public ?for at least the next two weeks.  As a reminder all Gloucester Public Schools, the Rose Baker Senior Center, the Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library, Talbot Rink and Newhall Stadium are all closed until at least Tuesday, April 7.  During this time City offices will be minimally staffed to provide core municipal services.  Departments will continue to be available by phone and email to respond to inquiries, manage on-line requests and in some instances arrange for pick-up of materials/documents.  If there is an unavoidable need to conduct business in person with a City department, individuals can call the respective department in advance to schedule an appointment.

Residents may conduct many transactions online.  Visit the City’s website at https://gloucester-ma.gov/index.aspx?NID=459 to:

  • Pay Motor Vehicle and/or Boat Excise Tax
  • Pay Parking Tickets
  • Pay Personal Property Tax
  • Pay Real Estate Tax
  • Pay Water / Sewer Bills
  • License your dog
  • Building permits
  • Report a community issue via SeeClickFix

Public Safety (Police, Fire, and Harbormaster) and Public Works will remain active and working during this time period.  Trash and recycling pick services remain on schedule.

Lock boxes will be available at Gloucester City Hall at the Warren Street Entrance and at City Hall Annex on Pond Road for residents to drop off materials.   These drop boxes will be emptied and all documents will be time stamped daily.  The City is only accepting personal checks or money orders in the drop box.  Please no cash payments.  Credit card payments may be made online.    

  • The Department of Public Works Administrative Offices will be closed to the public for at least the next two weeks.
    • All meter and backflow inspections and all other permit related inspections will be suspended during that time.
    • Services that will continue but may be modified:

  • The Inspectional Services Department will be closed to the public for at least the next two weeks.

  • The Assessor’s Department will be closed to the public for at least the next two weeks.
    • Assessors will not be conducting on-site inspections where contact with homeowners or access to the interior of any property is required until further notice but will continue to conduct exterior inspections from the street utilizing city vehicles, wearing city uniforms and carrying proper identification
    • Assessing staff will continue to assist taxpayers over the telephone and through email to ensure the exemption application process can be completed timely.
    • Motor Vehicle and Boat Excise tax abatements can be processed via email or regular mail and assessing staff will assist taxpayers via the telephone.
    • Please call 978-281-9715 or email with any questions.

We’ll be updating information about the City’s response to coronavirus at www.gloucester-ma.gov.   The City will continue to refine its approach to meeting the needs of the public while keeping the health and safety of our residents at the forefront. 

Your patience and understanding during this difficult time are greatly appreciated.  Our City has always pulled together during difficult and trying times.  Together we will get through this.  Thank you for helping us do our part to keep everyone safe.

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This is a very fluid situation with many fast moving developments.  The following actions and recommendations are currently in place:

SCHOOLS/CHILDCARE

  • As mandated by Governor Charlie Baker earlier today all Gloucester Public Schools will be closed for three weeks.  During that time all schools will undergo deep cleanings. 

  • All school field trips (out-of-state and in-state) and all school events have been cancelled through and including May 3. 

  • Beginning Monday, March 16, Gloucester schools will provide lunch for ALL students who are in need of a meal.  Meals will be available between 11:00am and 12:00pm Monday through Friday at the O’Maley Innovation Middle School.  This will be a “grab and go” bagged lunch operation.  Meals will be given out at the side door next to the cafeteria; look for the sign.  Families can drive by and they will receive lunch, or individuals can walk up to the door and receive a meal which will consist of a sandwich, a fruit, a vegetable, and milk.

  • During the school closure, children should not gather with others outside their family except if outside in very small numbers and maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet apart.  Everyone should refrain from play dates, sleepovers, etc.

  • Children should not be left with grandparents as this group is very susceptible to the virus. 

  • All Pathways for Children classrooms, programs and offices will be closed for at least two weeks (as of earlier today Sunday, March 15).  If you have specific questions please contact their Social Work or Admissions Department at 978-515-5330 and you can expect a response within 24 hours. 


CITY MEETINGS

  • The Baker-Polito Administration announced an emergency order modifying the state’s open meeting law and as a result we expect temporary changes to some meetings.  Once those details are worked out we will share that information.  In the meantime, we are asking that Board, Committees, and Commissions with no pressing City matters on their agendas to cancel meetings for the next two weeks.  Please check the City calendar for updates - https://gloucester-ma.gov/calendar.aspx.


STATE/CITY RECOMMENDATIONS

  • As a reminder, everyone should follow these preventative actions:
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Use proper techniques to cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoiding touch your face.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Frequently clean touched surfaces and objects daily.

  • Everyone is encouraged to restrict all social interactions to essential activities such as getting food and/or medicine.

  • The City encourages community members not to host events or programs that create crowded situations in public or private homes where people are close together and/or the occupants exceed 50% of the room's capacity.

  • As mandated by Governor Charlie Baker earlier today all gatherings of 25 people or more are banned.  The Gloucester Health Department and Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken recommend everyone avoid events or gatherings, especially if you are at higher risk for serious health complications from the virus.

  • As mandated by Governor Charlie Baker, as of Tuesday March 17 all local restaurants will be permitted to sell take-out only.  Absolutely no consumption on-site. 

  • Although the State is not ordering the closure of early education and/ or childcare programs at this time, they are strongly urging childcare providers to strictly observe guidelines that are being issued by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Department of Public Health (DPH), which call for temporary closures based on actual direct or indirect exposures to individuals with COVID-19.  At the same time, EEC will prioritize the maintenance and expansion of childcare capacity serving front-line healthcare workers and first-responders across the state.

  • The City has recommended to Gloucester businesses that telecommuting options should be made available for as many employees as possible and to be flexible with sick leave benefits for those who are ill or who are recommended to stay home because they are high risk.  The immediate goal is to limit interaction among people to thwart the spread of this virus so employers should consider staggered shifts and/or alternative work schedules like work from home or a temporary reduction in staff. 

  • Gloucester residents and business owners are encouraged to make use of the state’s newly expanded 2-1-1 system for information and medical questions regarding the coronavirus crisis.  For more information on the 2-1-1 system can be found here:  https://gloucester-ma.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1512.

ACCESS TO FOOD/MEALS

  • The Open Door will be able to help bridge the grocery gap for families.
    • Food pantry hours are as follows:
      • Monday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
      • Tuesday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
      • Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
      • Thursday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
      • Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
      • Dinners available for takeout:
        • Monday-Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
        • Friday at Trinity Congregational from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

OTHER COMMUNITY INFO

  • Cape Ann Transportation Authority (CATA) has implemented enhanced cleaning protocols of their fleet and is currently operating under its normal schedule.



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