Augusta County releases details of plan to begin slow open from lockdown

Augusta CountyAugusta County is highlighting the plan for a phased reopening of government facilities and activities after closures and cancellations due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The plan follows state and federal guidelines to gradually ease public health restrictions and seeks to align with the state’s Forward Virginia plan. The phases are based on the level and intensity of public interaction for individual departments and focus on physical distancing, safety measures, and sanitizing protocols.

“While we can tentatively plan for reopening dates, implementation will ultimately depend on the data reflecting the spread or containment of the virus. The plan will have to be flexible and respond to the data. In other words, our best laid plans are subject to change,” said Candy Hensley, assistant to the County Administrator, who has coordinated efforts to develop the recovery plan.

The tentative plan is to reopen the Augusta County Government to the public on June 1. After the center opens, for the safety of the public as well as that of employees, the county asks the public to continue use of the drive-thru window and the drop box and to continue requesting services electronically and by phone.

Upon opening, the center will have active protocols and visible measures in place to maintain strict guidelines for safety, including:

  • Security screens at the counters will be lowered and fitted with acrylic barriers with space underneath to conduct business.
  • Narrow tables and rope barriers will be in place to help maintain safe physical distancing measures.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available at entrances.
  • The wearing of masks is recommended.

Departments and county agencies will continue to coordinate efforts for reopening and for sharing the high standards of safety protocols used. Information will be forthcoming from the individual agencies.

All departments have been integral in the development of processes for reopening based on the unique operations of the department. Input and updates to the plan will be ongoing.

“It is with an abundance of caution that we take any step towards becoming fully operational,” said Andy Wells, director of the parks and recreation department. “Our highest priority continues to be the safety of all our guests and staff. It is important to understand that, even when facilities and programs are available, there will likely be additional guidelines to follow that may be beyond the standard.”

The department plans to update the status of programs by June 15. The current decisions regarding Parks and Recreation activities include:

  • All scheduled special events through August are cancelled. This includes the annual Sweet Dreams Day at Stuarts Draft Park, Food Truck Wednesdays, and Dog Days.
  • All summer camp programs have been cancelled. This includes KIDS Camp and RecConnect.
  • The swimming pool at Stuarts Draft Park will not open for the 2020 season. Swim lessons and the Stuarts Draft Dolphins swim team will not be offered.
  • The campground and swimming pool at Natural Chimneys Park remain closed and an update on their availability will be provided by June 15. The Red Wing Roots Music Festival will be postponed until July 9-11, 2021.
  • All registrations and reservations continue to be suspended until further notice.
  • All parks and trails are open to the public. Picnic shelters, pavilions, restrooms, and playgrounds in county parks and on county school properties remain closed indefinitely. A status update will be provided by June 15.

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