NEWPORT — Newport Fire Chief Rob Murphy kept a close watch on the door at the Newport City Council meeting held Monday, March 16, to be sure that there were no more than 25 people gathered, per Governor Kate Brown’s order aimed at halting the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“I closed the fire station to the public and all visitors,” Murphy told city council members.
As of today (Friday), access to Newport City Hall is being limited. The city will reassess this limited access at the end of March, City Manager Spencer Nebel indicated in a news release sent out Thursday afternoon.
“The city intends that full services continue, and to the extent possible, through electronic communication, including telephone and email,” detailed the memo. “Essential individual meetings may be scheduled by contacting the individual department.”
Newport City Recorder Peggy Hawker noted city facilities have been closed in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the recreation center, the senior center, the library and municipal court.
“If you’re sick, not feeling well, stay home, and wash your hands. Be sure and wipe down commonly used services,” said Murphy, noting the efforts taken by his department to keep the station clean. “Try to take care of yourselves, your family and each other.”
Councilor Ryan Parker issued an alert regarding the sewer system, asking citizens to not flush plastic items, flushing only items that were designed to be flushed, to protect public works.
While some city facilities are closed, the public works department is working. On Thursday, March 19, Public Works Director Tim Gross was out assessing work to be done to repair a sinkhole on 12th Street at Highway 101 in Newport.
“All of our staff would probably work even with a city curtailment, because we have to produce water, treat wastewater … they provide essential services,” Gross said. “Life goes on.”
Gross did say they are taking precautions, such as shifting lunch time and breaks, separating the crews and limiting the number of people in meetings. He also noted the city has continuity of operations planning in place.
Mayor Dean Sawyer noted the hardship the COVID-19 pandemic is causing local restaurants, saying that many are offering delivery services in addition to take-out. For a complete list of restaurants open for take-out and/or delivery, see www.newportnewstimes.com.
Also, a webpage dedicated to coverage of the virus and its impact, including area closures and cancellations, is being updated regularly at the News-Times website. Access to all News-Times content related to the COVID-19 pandemic is free and does not require a subscription.