MAPLETON – Council here has approved a series of health and safety measures and COVID-19 protocols in preparation for the eventual return of employees to the township administration centre.
“I don’t anticipate for this to happen anytime soon, where we’re open to the public,” CAO Manny Baron explained during the May 26 council meeting.
“But we want to be ready for when we do reopen and we want to be sure that our staff are trained aware of the precautions were putting into place.”
Safety measures include restricting entrances to certain personnel, continuing to not accept in-person payments from the public, asking employees to self-screen for illness, installation of plexi-glass barriers at counters and a requirement for staff to wear face shields.
Contractors entering the building will be provided with a daily-use facemask to wear. Members of the public will be permitted to wear their own masks.
Protocols cover situations ranging from employees becoming ill in the workplace, to leave of absence and return-to-work processes.
“Most of this information came from the county,” noted CAO Manny Baron. “We certainly worked with them.”
Councillor Paul Douglas asked if there would be any change to the township’s ability to accept online payments to help reduce traffic in the office “once we do reopen.”
“It’s something we’re working on, but we’re little bit behind at this point in time in terms of technology,” replied director of finance John Morrison.
He said citizens do have the option of utilizing pre-authorized payments for taxes and water bills and sending cheques through the mail for items like dog tags.
Mayor Gregg Davidson stressed “it’s very important for the public to know” they have options aside from attending the municipal office in person.
Douglas asked if there are protocols “for when employees would be required to wear a face shield?”
He wondered if workers who have their own offices would be required to wear the gear at their desks, or if the shields would be required for outdoor workers.
“I know at the county that they’re making it mandatory to wear the shields at all times,” replied Davidson
“Anybody that’s out and not in their office should be wearing one,” said Baron.
“It’s my opinion that if you’re in your office you’re clearly not six feet from somebody. We’re going to talk to staff, but me personally, I don’t think that it’s needed.”
“We need to have some fluctuation,” said Davidson.
“There needs to be some give and take that if things change, that Mr. Baron can make that change.”
Councillor Michael Martin agreed there should be “some built-in flexibility” in the policies.
“I think that’s something the CAO can wade through,” said Martin.
“I think it’s important to remember that our staff aren’t working in a health care facility and, as such, probably don‘t require the same level of PPE.
“They’re not going to be around sick people day in and day out, but a certain level of precaution is warranted.”
Martin also asked if online bookings for municipal facilities would become “the new normal.”
“This is one of the things staff has been wanting for a while,” responded Baron.
“So whether COVID happened or not, it was going to come to fruition at some point.”
Councillor Marlene Ottens asked if the township was having any trouble obtaining PPE items, and what kind of costs would be incurred.
“The face shields themselves cost $1,621 (for 200 shields). They’re there in the office right now just waiting to be put together,” said Baron, who estimated face masks would cost three or four dollars apiece.
“It’s not a lot considering the impact on safety it will have for our staff,” the CAO stated.