WELLINGTON COUNTY – Townships in the county are closing municipal buildings and cancelling meetings as a precautionary measure to the COVID-19 situation.
The Town of Minto, Town of Erin, Township of Wellington North and Township of Mapleton have closed their municipal offices to the public.
The Township of Mapleton will only be providing essential services effective March 17.
Mapleton Mayor Gregg Davidson said it was tough to decide what was essential but it was necessary to keep some staff home.
“We also wanted to make sure that we had staff on the sideline,” Davidson said. “If you have everyone in the office working and the virus goes through the entire office, you’re completely shut-down.”
Mapelton's roads department will stay on to maintain any possible snowfall, as well as payroll, building department and the clerks department. Some administrative jobs will have a rotating staff so there will be a contingency of staff.
A press release from Wellington North is advising residents to pay their taxes through the bank and get dog tags and burn permits online.
According to a press release, the Town of Minto will be limiting public interaction with their public works department. Therefore some requests involving entering homes may not be completed but residents are encouraged to call the municipal office to inquire.
Jessica Spina, communications officer for Town of Erin, said services will continue as usual with full staff besides the town hall closure.
Erin, Mapleton and Minto are extending municipal tax and water/sewer payments have been extended because office closures could affect payments and hardships residents may face.
“We certainly see that there might be a financial impact for some people in the community,” Davidson said. “We want to make sure that we extend the payment period to the end of April.”
The towns had previously closed municipal facilities such as arenas, recreation centres and community buildings.
“We are aware these decisions may be an inconvenience for some,” Mapleton's press release said. “The health and safety of the residents of the Township of Mapleton and our staff are our top priorities and we believe these measure are necessary.”
"The Town of Minto wishes to thank the public for their ongoing understanding during this unique circumstance," Minto's press release said.
The closure is in effect until April 6 in each town and will be re-evaluated then.
The county has also announced further measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“The health and safety of our residents and our staff remains our top priority,” Warden Kelly Linton said in a press release. “County officials did not make these decisions lightly.”
In addition to changes made over the weekend, all Wellington County Child Care and Learning Centres will be closed to the public beginning on March 18 until further notice. All rentals at county libraries and the museum and archives are cancelled until at least April 30.
The County Administration Centre, Social Services Offices and Waste Facilities will remain open. The county is encouraging residents to use curbside collection as opposed to bringing waste to county waste facilities.
Residents are also urged to use online and phone methods to access services and only attend a facility in person if necessary.
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wellington County. The release said county officials are working closely with public health to respond appropriately to the situation.
“We realize the impact it has on our residents,” Linton said in a press release. “The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will be making all appropriate changes as necessary.
For the most updated information, visit: www.wellington.ca or check social media platforms. For additional information on COVID-19, and how to protect yourself, visit www.wdgpublichealth.ca.
Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com