Most City of Bellingham facilities will remain closed through the end of May under Governor Jay Inslee's extended and revised “Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order.
Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood said Governor Inslee's most recent order changes little about how City government has been operating since mid-March when Mayor Fleetwood initiated the first of a series of operational changes in response to the threat of COVID-19.
“While our public service counters and key facilities have been, and today remain, closed under the Governor's order, City of Bellingham personnel continue to provide services that are essential to our community," Fleetwood said.
Earlier this week, Governor Inslee extended his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order through May 31, while amending some components of the original order and providing a plan for re-opening the state.
According to the Governor's “Safe Start" plan, businesses and other activities will be allowed to re-open in phases, with appropriate social distancing measures and health standards in place. Governor Inslee said each phase will last at least three weeks and data and metrics will determine when the state can move from one phase to the next.
Fleetwood said the phases described in the Governor's plan will guide how City of Bellingham services resume as well. He said Phase 1 of the “Safe Start" plan – which began this week – changes little about how City services and facilities are currently operating.
Front counter services in most departments remain closed. The Bellingham Municipal Court is closed, with some court hearings being held electronically. The Bellingham Public Library, Whatcom Museum, the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center, and other City facilities, are closed. City-hosted and city-permitted events and activities have been canceled. All non-essential meetings have been canceled, and essential meetings, such as those of the Bellingham City Council, are being held using web-based remote technology.
Under Governor Inslee's recently revised order, construction activities have resumed that require City permitting and inspection responsibilities to resume in more typical operation. The Governor's revised order expanded certain outdoor recreation options, including allowing golf. City parks and trails remain open, with restrictions in place and users encouraged to move through them.
Despite extensive facility closures, City departments have remained operational and essential services continue uninterrupted. City staff are telecommuting or using appropriate social distancing, personal protective equipment, and other techniques recommended by health officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Fleetwood said, as it relates to City operations while our state and city move through Phase 1 and subsequent phases, “our priority will be the health and safety of City employees, those with whom they directly interact, and all our Bellingham residents."
“As we comply with the Governor's phased approach, we are following best practices recommended by health officials and emphasizing continued vigilance to prevent the spread of COVID-19," Mayor Fleetwood said. “We are creating plans for resuming City services and community activities that align with the Governor's direction, and we strive to resume City services in alignment with like services in the private sector."
For information about City and county-wide responses to COVID-19, visit www.cob.org.