Publication:

The Amherst News - 2020-03-25

Data:

For the sake of safety

COVID-19

AMHERST, N.S. – Amherst has closed several town buildings and asked town employees who’ve travelled internationally to self-isolate for 14 days in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that’s made its way into some parts of the Maritimes. “While we regret having to make these provisions and acknowledge that they will create some inconvenience, they are a necessary first step in helping to keep our community healthy. We ask for your patience and support in these extraordinary times,” Mayor David Kogon said in a news release on March 13. The mayor said the goal is to ensure the continuity of essential municipal services. CAO Greg Herrett said the town, on recommendation of the province, will require all employees who travel outside the county to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return. Where it is practical, they will be required to work from home during self-isolation if they are not symptomatic. “We are also increasing our sanitation efforts in all facilities, assigning more resources and placing an emphasis on common touch points and surfaces,” he added. The town also temporarily closed or restricted public access to a number of facilities. “The safety of the public and our employees is our number one concern," Kogon said in the announcement. "By temporarily restricting access to a number of facilities we hope to slow the progress of the virus and limit the opportunity for transmission." TEMPORARY CLOSURES The town is closing these facilities to the public effective immediately, until further notice: • The Amherst Fire Hall, including the main meeting room on the second floor and the Russell Hunter Room • The Amherst Police Department Francis Smith Community Room • The Public Works Garage • The Community Credit Union Business Innovation Centre main conference room, hub and board room are closed to the public • The Amherst Stadium is closed to the public, including the walking track and meeting room Town hall has remained open as of press time, but measures are in place to provide a barrier between the public and reception staff. The Municipality of Cumberland has closed its service centres as well as the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill. Payment of tax bills, water and sewer bills and building permits will continue online through Paymentus, by mail or the drop slot at the E.D. Fullerton Municipal Building in Upper Nappan. Interest charges on these bills is being deferred while scheduled water service disconnections will be postponed and building permits and development permits can be accepted by email. There will be no in-person meetings with municipal staff. Oxford has also been preparing. “We are currently going through the business continuity planning process to determine our key services and personnel, identifying alternate resources for depth of skills of covering those services should we have staff shortages,” CAO Rachel Jones said. “We will also be looking at setting up our IT systems to allow for working at home where possible if it is necessary for self-isolation for any of our administrative staff.” Due to the minor hockey decision to suspend the season, Oxford’s fun hockey program has halted and the town has closed the arena. Earlier, on March13, the Maritime Junior Hockey League announced its decision to cancel the 2020 Canadian Tire Cup playoffs. The news came a day after the league placed a hold on the start of its playoffs, which had been scheduled to begin in Yarmouth. The MHL Board of Governors met to continue discussions surrounding the health and safety of players, team staff members, on and off-ice officials, volunteers, and fans. Hockey Canada released a statement March 12 to cancel all of its sanctioned activities, including national championships such as the Centennial Cup. After further discussions with Hockey Canada, the Canadian Junior Hockey League, and other stakeholders, the MHL board of governors has decided the 2019-20 Canadian Tire Cup Playoffs are cancelled due to the threat of potential exposure to all parties involved. The Cumberland Public Library’s branches have also closed temporarily.

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