OWOSSO — With the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home orders lifting June 12, city officials are looking at June 15 to reopen city hall and the public safety building to the public, and gradually bring back staffers who have been working from home.
On Monday, the Owosso City Council, during its regular virtual meeting starting at 7:30 p.m., is expected to consider a draft reopening plan put together by City Manager Nathan Henne, based on guidance from the federal Centers For Disease Control.
“Our reopening plan for city hall and the public safety building provides guidance to our employees and the community to show how the city will reopen for full staffing and eventually to the public,” Henne said Friday in an email.
According to the draft plan, reopening city buildings can begin only after a downward trend of infections for 14 days within Region 5 (Lansing region including Shiawassee County) from the state’s COVID-19 economic recovery map.
In the plan’s Phase 1, city employees will be encouraged to telework and return to work in stages. All common areas in city buildings will be shut down and social distancing will be strictly enforced. Employees will be required to wear a mask when in common areas, and entering and leaving the building.
Employees need not wear a mask inside their own offices. Non-essential business travel will be limited. Residents will be allowed inside by appointment only. Utility and other payments will continue to be accepted by the drop box in the city hall parking lot, online or over the phone.
Only if there is no rebound in infections will the city move to Phase 2, in which non-essential business travel can resume. Employees will continue to telework when possible and, when in a city building, practice social distancing and mask-wearing. The only door open to city hall will be in the basement.
If the virus remains under control, Phase 3 will allow resumption of unrestricted staffing onsite. Employees who are vulnerable to infection (e.g., because of age or pre-existing condition) will still practice social distancing. All city hall doors will be open.
During the reopening process, employees will be required to undergo a temperature check and answer a short questionnaire every time they enter city hall. The questions are confidential. Temperature checks will be conducted with a non-contact thermometer located in each of the city’s facilities, including the water and sewer plants, and department of public works building.
Employees with temperatures of 100.4 degrees or above will be sent home and asked to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms. Employees with symptoms will be asked to go to Memorial Healthcare for testing. Sick employees will be encouraged to stay home until they are well.
Work shifts will be staggered in order to minimize contact among co-workers. Hand-sanitizing stations will be located at entrances with signs urging the public to use them. Extensive daily cleaning of city hall and the public safety building, and weekly deep cleanings of public safety vehicles will continue, Henne said.
Precautions will be taken even after public city buildings are completely reopened. Renovations, which have been completed, include a glass partition at the front desk inside city hall, and the building and engineering offices, and council chambers have been rearranged to conform to social distancing rules.
“We have installed protective barriers at the front desk, created a walk-up window for the engineering office so people don’t have to crowd into the office and we reconfigured the building office to adhere to social distancing,” Henne said.
The city manager said he is hopeful June 15 will work as the reopening date, if council members approve and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer does not further extend the “stay home, stay safe” measures.
“I have reason to believe we will be able to open our doors to the public on June 15,” Henne said in a memo to council, “given the average decline in new cases over the last week or two for Region 5.”