FAIRFAX – Fairfax has closed its offices and other municipal buildings to nonessential public traffic and is encouraging staff capable of working remotely to do so in response to the current outbreak of COVID-19.
The town’s library, embedded within Bellows Free Academy – Fairfax, also closed until further notice, shutting down Tuesday afternoon alongside the town’s school in accordance with the a gubernatorial order that all schools close.
“Obviously this is an ever changing situation, so we made the decision last night to close our public spaces to nonessential visitors,” town manager Brad Docheff told the Messenger Tuesday. “Staff is on site, but we’re not having open doors.”
According to Docheff, town employees who need to be in the offices or other facilities to access certain programs and equipment would still be on hand, but those who can work remotely were encouraged to do so in order to limit possible exposures to COVID-19.
The town is also encouraging requests from the town be handled online and that all communications are managed either through email or over the phone, according to Docheff.
According to Docheff, the selectboard approved continuing to pay staff wages should medical reasons lead them to call into work.
“Any staff who is forced out of the office due to health concerns or for stoppages or closers are not going to face financial penalties,” Docheff said. “The point is to have nobody lose peace of mind or financial security due to circumstances outside of their control.”
According to Docheff, the town has cancelled public events scheduled for the town offices as well as recreation programing coordinated through the town’s parks and recreation department, including personal fitness classes and the Fairfax Egg Hunt.
The town’s parks and the 100 Acre Woods remain open, with town staff monitoring them “as often as possible” according to the parks and recreation department’s website.
According to the Fairfax Community Library’s Facebook page, curbside pick-up and drop-off for books is scheduled on Thursday and Friday this week, and the library is cancelling overdue notices during this time.
The town has also postponed nonessential government meetings for the time being in order to further limit large gatherings.
“This is a situation where everybody, leadership included, needs to defer to the guidelines being put forth by the department of health,” Docheff said. “We’re being very open to what the situation presents to us, but for the time being, we’re going to have no nonessential meetings.”
Fairfax’s decision to close buildings to the public comes as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Vermont continues to grow.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the number of Vermonters with confirmed cases of COVID-19 had grown from eight to ten, with at least another four cases identified among people visiting Vermont from out of state.
“We’re hoping folks use good judgment in their daily life practices and refer to the health professionals and experts in how they behave,” Docheff said. “As for the town, what we can do, we want to eliminate the opportunity for folks to gather in large groups unnecessarily.”
Updates from Fairfax are available online at the town’s website at fairfax-vt.gov, and more information on COVID-19 is available from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Vermont Dept. of Health at healthvermont.gov/covid19.