Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, along with his cabinet heads, continue to review plans for the eventual reopening of the City of Springfield, pending Governor Baker’s Four-Phased announcement which is expected to be released Monday, May 18, 2020.
City Hall and all municipal buildings have been closed to the public since March 17, 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. All essential city functions and services have continued to operate and employees continue to report to work though under modified aspects.
On Monday, May 11, 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the state’s Four-Phased approach to reopening the Massachusetts economy. Governor Baker is expected to present details of the states plans for the phased reopening during a press conference on Monday, May 18, 2020.
In preparation of Governor Baker’s May 18th announcement for reopening government, Mayor Sarno, Health and Human Services (HHS) Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris, and Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management (PBRM) Patrick Sullivan are announcing that the City of Springfield has drafted initial plans for the reopening of city government to the public in phases.
The city’s reopening plans will be finalized once the Governor has announced the states intentions of which industries are able to open under which Phase and what public health and safety measures are to be implemented. Once the Governor’s Four-Phased plans have been reviewed, Mayor Sarno and his cabinet heads will hold a press conference to announce the city’s plans for a phased reopening in greater detail.
The city’s planned reopening announcement, pending the Governor’s announcement, could include but not be limited to the following:
- All municipal facilities and offices will have installed the proper public health and safety measures and equipment needed to protect city employees and the public
- Temperature checks and face coverings will be needed to gain entry into all municipal facilities
- Springfield’s municipal government operations will reopen to the public but by appointment only
- Individuals will need to contact the appropriate department they need to reach to schedule an appointment to conduct business
- No walk-ins will be permitted
- Residents and businesses needing to conduct city related business are encouraged to continue to do so remotely when possibly via our 311 Call Center or city website at www.springfield-ma.gov
Following CDC guidelines, the city will begin scheduling appointments with residents to conduct city related business starting Tuesday, May 26, 2020. This date is required as the city is still in Phase I of the COVID-19 measures taken to slow the spread of this disease. A shift to Phase II will be considered when the following criteria have been met:
- The number of new Coronavirus cases has declined for at least 14 consecutive days.
- Rapid Diagnostic Testing capacity is sufficient to test, at minimum, all people with COVID-19 symptoms, as well as close contacts and those in essential roles.
- The health care system is able to safely care for all patients.
- There is sufficient public health capacity to conduct contact tracing for all new cases and their close contacts.
It is anticipated the city will have achieved all four of the criteria by May 26th. During Phase II, Springfield municipal offices, businesses, and neighborhoods can begin a process of reopening with modifications.
The city will have additional guidance and procedures to follow once the Governor’s Task Force report is released on May 18th.
Mayor Sarno stated, “It has been a difficult time over the past six weeks for our residents. My heart goes out to all families that have lost a loved one or been otherwise affected by this hazardous virus. I felt it was important to let our residents know this will be a cautious reopening of municipal government and we all have to continue to do our part in safe social distancing, wearing masks, using common sense and following recommendations issued by Governor Baker and the appropriate state and federal agencies. We have many challenges ahead in defeating this devastating disease. During our phased approach to reopening, we must be vigilant and, if circumstances warrant, we may have to revert to a prior phase. It is very clear that what is being termed the “new normal” will be our way of life until such time a vaccine is available. I look forward to providing additional direction once my cabinet and I have had time to review the Governor’s Guidance Report on Reopening Government.”
HHS Commissioner Caulton-Harris added, “COVID-19 has presented a public health crisis not seen since the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19. Thousands of Massachusetts residents have succumbed to the virus and almost two-thousand positive COVID-19 cases have been identified in Springfield residents. Community spread is a primary cause of transmission of the infection. In order to mitigate the impact of the virus our public health response must include making structural and non-structural changes including coordination and management of city employees and facilities.”
PBRM Director Sullivan said, “As directed by Mayor Sarno, we await the Governor’s guidance in reopening government in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Following CDC guidelines, the city has already begun to take the measures necessary in preparing our buildings to welcome scheduled appointments starting May 26th and our parks continue to be open and available for passive recreation. It is apparent that our daily routines and how we conduct our business are altered for the foreseeable future and we will continue to work together to provide resources to our residents in a safe, prudent, and timely manner. We thank everyone for their continued cooperation, understanding and patience during this unprecedented time.”
Mayor Sarno continued, “The goal of the phased reopening, which will be based on public health and scientific metrics, is to systematically allow the reopening of municipal buildings to the public under a controlled approach while still maintaining core city services for the public and business community. This method is being taken out of an abundance of caution to preserve our city workforce, protect the health of the public and to try to limit a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases. More information will be made readily available following the Governor’s announcement on Monday.”