City of Lawrence releases plan to reopen City Hall and other buildings to the public

photo by: Mike Yoder

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016

City leaders, staff and the public will soon be able to return to City Hall under the city’s new reopening plan, though not without added precautions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The City of Lawrence released its reopening plan earlier this week, and on Friday it revised dates on the plan to align with modifications that Gov. Laura Kelly made to the statewide reopening plan. Under the city’s plan, City Hall and city offices in the adjacent Riverfront building will reopen in line with Phase Three of the governor’s plan, which currently is scheduled to begin no earlier than June 8.

Though buildings will be reopening, city spokesperson Porter Arneill encouraged residents to continue observing Lawrence Douglas County Public Health orders and recommendations in place to stop the spread of the virus.

“Safety remains our top priority for residents and staff,” Arneill said in an email to the Journal-World. “We encourage everyone to be smart and safe and continue following the recommendations from LDC Public Health.”

The city announced the closure of city buildings on March 17, the same day that local health officials announced Douglas County’s first case of COVID-19. Since then, city employees who can work from home have been doing so, and City Commission and city advisory board meetings have been held virtually.

Once City Hall and Riverfront offices reopen, several safety restrictions for staff and the public will remain in place, according to the plan. Though residents can enter city offices to conduct business, the city still highly encourages that service be done via phone or online, and face masks will be available for those who do visit City Hall in person. In-person city meetings will also resume under Phase Three, though virtual participation options for the public will remain available.

As far as city employees go, all city staff may return to work on a normal schedule under Phase Three. However, remote work will be maintained on a discretionary basis, and high-risk individuals should stay home, if possible. Common areas and frequently touched surfaces will continue to be disinfected daily and employees will continue to have their temperatures checked and be required to wear masks when working in close proximity.

Many restrictions will not be lifted until the final phase of reopening, which is currently scheduled to take place no earlier than June 22 according to current state and local health orders. Under Phase Four, there will be no facility restrictions, and Parks and Recreation buildings will reopen with the exception of the Outdoor Aquatic Center and South Park Wading Pool, which will remain closed. Appropriate personal protective equipment and safety restrictions will continue to be followed. The city’s full reopening plan is available on the city’s website, Lawrenceks.org.

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