Cities across Central Oregon are changing their daily practices during the coronavirus pandemic, but keeping services available to the public.
Redmond, Sisters and Prineville announced Tuesday that each city is closing its buildings to the public through March and encouraging residents to access services online or by phone.
The city of Bend is closing its facilities to the public on Thursday but will keep the main police department lobby open. A date of reopening has not yet been set.
Madras and La Pine are keeping facilities open, but are asking residents to pay utility bills over the phone, online or by using a drop box outside their offices.
All cities are keeping staff levels the same, although more employees will be working remotely.
“Staffing levels have not changed,” Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky said. “Staffing locations have changed.”
Redmond is being proactive and strategically keeping employees apart, Witcosky said.
If two employees work in the same department, one would be asked to work from home to decrease the chance of spreading the virus, he said.
“We don’t want to wipe out an entire division of operation and the talent needed,” he said.
All public meetings in Redmond, other than the City Council, are canceled until April 13. The City Council met Tuesday but will postpone meetings until April 14.
Facility closures do not apply to the Redmond Airport, which is overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration.
In Prineville, city buildings will be closed to the public for 30 days. The city is still operating, and people just need to call for services, according to City Manager Steve Forrester.
“City service remains operational,” Forrester said. “We are still here in business.”
Public meetings are canceled in Prineville, except the upcoming City Council meeting March 24, which the city is working to make available online.
Prineville, and the other cities in Central Oregon, are not sending shut-off notices or shutting off water for nonpayment of unpaid water bills.
The city of Sisters is closing its buildings to the public until April 1. All public committee and board meetings in Sisters are canceled until April 15. The City Council will continue to meet, but with increased space between chairs and a shorter meeting time.
Sisters staff is working to create a system for residents to call in and listen to City Council meetings.
Bend’s City Council meeting Wednesday is still planned, but the next meeting April 1 has been canceled. All other public meetings in Bend are canceled as well.
Bend city staff are still working from their offices, but like Redmond, if they work together in the same office at least one of them is encouraged to work from home.
“Basically we’re keeping public access from our hallways,” said Anne Aurand, city of Bend communications director. “Most of our services, such as permitting services, can be conducted online or by phone, and we’re still working through how to continue to serve the public as much as possible.”