Hand-sanitizers, counter shields and safety protocols will greet the public when officials unlock Gilbert Civic Center municipal buildings tomorrow, June 1, as part of the town’s Phase 2 re-opening plan.
Just like the state, Gilbert is relaxing restrictions related to the coronavirus in measured steps. The town began closing buildings, and canceling programs and events in early March.
“It’s important to note that only a small portion of our workforce, roughly 25 percent, will return onsite while the majority of those currently working from home will continue working remotely,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Harrison.
Up to 40 percent of the town’s workforce is expected to come back on-site in Phase 3, the date for which has not been determined.
Harrison said staff has been working to develop recommended physical distancing and safety protocols for the Phase 2 re-opening in accordance with CDC guidelines.
Pexiglass or “sneeze guards” will be installed at all front counter areas, hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout lobby areas, and signs detailing cleaning protocols and physical distancing will be clearly posted, Harrison said.
Town staff will be required to wear a mask when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Some examples might be when interacting with the public in a lobby or at a service counter, in a hallway or common area, Harrison added.
The town also is limiting the number of people in the Council Chambers beginning with this Tuesday’s meeting.
“Council meetings will re-open to the public at one-third capacity or 60 people in the audience,” she said. “It is our intent to ensure that our elected officials, visitors and staff are able to maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from one another during Council meetings.”
While other municipal buildings closed, the Municipal Court facility remained opened for mandatory types of cases like those who are in-custody and those who require an Order of Protection of Protective Order, according to Harrison.
The court has mitigation strategies in place to begin full in-person proceedings on Monday – including a requirement that everyone, with a few exceptions, who enters the building will have to wear a mask.
Masks will not be provided to the public with the exception of critical participants such as victims, jurors, witnesses and those seeking protective orders, according to the court’s website.
And, the court is requiring everyone entering the building to submit to a brief health-screening survey.
Harrison said people entering the town’s other buildings won’t be required to wear a mask.
“We do not have the authority to require visitors to wear masks but recommendations for employee mask protocols in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained are still being finalized,” she said.
The court building is governed by the state Supreme Court, which issued an administrative order April 24 requiring, among many things, that all courts require court employees and the public to wear at least cloth masks while in a court facility, Harrison added.
The court also is scheduling its docket to have no more than 25 people and limiting the number of people in its courtrooms to allow for social distancing.
No more than 10 people, including court staff, will be allowed in large courtrooms and no more than five people in the smallest courtrooms.
Harrison said during the past two months of the shutdown, innovation and technology have allowed the town to continue providing all core services to residents.
“While our municipal buildings were closed to the public many of our employees successfully transitioned to a remote-work setting,” she said.
She said a town survey completed about a month ago found a majority of employees adapted well to remote work.
Of the 72 percent of employees working remotely, 86 percent rated their experience as “great or good” with 66 percent of saying that their productivity has improved since making the transition, according to Harrison.
Gilbert earlier this month re-opened its playgrounds, parks and recreation facilities. On June 8, the town plans to re-open the classrooms for programs at the Community Center and at the Southeast Regional Library.
The splash pads continue to remain closed while the town develops protocols that would allow for their re-opening. And, the senior center will remain closed for the time being due to the vulnerable population it serves, according to Town Manager Patrick Banger.
Although the City of Chandler recently announced that nine of its employees have been diagnosed with COVID-19, Gilbert officials said no town employee has been diagnosed.