GLOUCESTER — Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Public Health Director Karin Carroll and Emergency Management Director and Assistant Fire Chief Joe Aiello would like to inform residents that the City of Gloucester has declared a state of emergency in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
At this time, there are no known positive or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Gloucester.
The City has declared a local state of emergency and has activated its Emergency Management Team to closely monitor the situation and provide any necessary updates.
By declaring this local Public Health Emergency the City will be able to deploy the resources and personnel necessary to meet the community’s needs throughout the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The declaration will additionally authorize City officials to issue additional directives to the public as the situation develops. It also creates a formal mechanism for the City to be reimbursed by the federal government for its emergency response.
The City’s Emergency Management Team and Board of Health will continue to work closely and meet regularly to discuss the latest guidance and determine the actions needed to keep the City prepared as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.
Effective immediately, the following steps will be taken in the City of Gloucester:
- Municipal buildings will be closed to the public for at least two weeks. These buildings include City Hall, the City Hall Annex, Cape Ann Veterans Services Office and the Department of Public Works administrative offices.
- City offices will have minimal staffing to assist residents on a case-by-case basis and will be available by phone and email. If necessary, residents may be able to set an appointment with a department and are asked to call ahead of time to schedule an appointment.
- Residents are encouraged to use many of the City’s online services for payments like parking tickets, property tax, real estate tax and water and sewer bills. Residents can apply for building permits and license their dogs. Community issues can also be reported online. These services can be found here.
- The Gloucester Police Department will respond immediately to 911 emergencies. Until further notice, citizens are asked to avoid coming into the lobby of the Police Department unless in the case of an emergency. If a situation can be resolved over the phone by speaking with a Police Officer, please call the department’s business line at 978-283-1212.
- The Gloucester Fire Department will respond immediately to 911 emergencies. At this time, all stations have restricted access to employees only. The Fire Prevention and Business Offices are closed to walk in business. Please call the business line at 978-325-5300 if you have any question or need additional information.
- The Gloucester Police and Fire Departments are additionally suspending all non-emergency services at this time.
- Trash and recycling pick up will continue as normal.
- All Gloucester Public Schools will be closed until at least Tuesday, April 7. To-go lunches are available for all students. Grab and go meals can be picked up at the Beeman Memorial School at 138 Cherry St. and Veterans Memorial Elementary School at 11 Webster St., Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and noon.
- During school closure, parents and guardians are advised not to hold play dates or sleepovers. Children should not be left with grandparents for childcare, as older people are a high risk population for exhibiting serious complications as a result of the virus.
- The Rose Baker Senior Center, the Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library, Talbot Rink and Newhall Stadium are all closed until at least Tuesday, April 7.
- Drop boxes are available at Gloucester City Hall at the Warren Street entrance and at City Hall Annex on Pond Road for residents to drop off payments or documents for any City departments. The City is only accepting personal checks or money orders made out to the City of Gloucester in the drop boxes. Credit card payments may be made online.
- Federal officials advised the public to avoid gatherings involving 10 or more people yesterday. Residents are encouraged to practice social distancing and avoid non-essential activities, other than getting food, medicine, etc.
- All bars and restaurants have been asked by the state to temporarily only serve takeout customers.
“These measures are being taken out of an abundance of caution so that the spread of the virus can be minimized and to promote social distancing,” said Mayor Romeo Theken. “Your cooperation in this endeavor will be much appreciated.”
The City of Gloucester encourages residents to practice social distancing, and the City is urging private organizations to consider cancelling or rescheduling events that would gather large numbers of people or result in groups of people being in close proximity.
The Gloucester Health Department and Mayor’s Office would like to recommend the following for all community members and businesses based on guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Health (DPH):
- Continue to promote daily practices of preventative actions, such as washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, staying home when you are sick, using proper techniques when coughing or sneezing, avoiding touching your face and cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
- Avoid large events or gatherings, especially if you are at higher risk for serious health complications from the virus.
- Postponing large indoor events or gatherings, including school activities, programs and sporting events.
- Should events be held, providing prevention supplies such as sinks with soap, hand sanitizers and tissues.
- Make telecommuting options available for as many employees as possible and urge employees to stay home when they are sick.
- Be flexible with sick leave benefits for those who are ill or who are recommended to stay home because they are at high risk.
The state has also set up the phone number 211 to answer questions that residents may have concerning COVID-19.