Just a day after City Hall reopened to the public after closing for several weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Peru Mayor Miles Hewitt was at his desk Tuesday morning contemplating next steps.
May 24 marks the beginning of Stage 3 of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Back on Track Indiana plan, and Hewitt said that is when the city will reopen playgrounds, basketball courts, picnic pavilions and the skatepark on Canal Street.
“It comes at a good time, especially being Memorial Day weekend,” Hewitt said, taking a break from a phone call.
Though he is not delaying in moving to reopen those public spaces, he said he still wanted people to be careful when venturing out into public.
Social distancing guidelines should be followed, Hewitt said, and parents need to watch children who venture onto the playgrounds.
“Wash your hands constantly,” he said.
Similar precautions were being taken at City Hall on Tuesday.
Hewitt took a measured approach to bringing the public back to those offices, something that was permitted on May 4 which marked the first day of Holcomb’s Stage 2.
The mayor brought city employees back on May 11 and then waited a full week – to give the employees time to adjust, he said – before opening the doors to the public.
They came back slowly on the first day, according to the mayor’s assistant, Ashley Lowe.
“We had a few people, I would say 10,” she said.
Most of those were to do business with code enforcement or the building department, Lowe and code enforcement assistant Rebecca Thoden said.
Having been closed since March seems to have changed the way people conduct such business though.
Hewitt, for the time being, has changed the way he and others do things too.
Thoden’s and Lowe’s desks now have plexiglass shields in front of them and red tape on the floor marks a safe distance from those desks where visitors should stand or sit.
The area behind the service desks is now closed off to non-employees.
Hewitt said if he needs to meet with a group of people, he has taken to doing that in Council Chambers on the first floor of City Hall rather than bringing them up to the conference room next to his office.
And signs on the front doors ask those who may be feeling ill or have a fever not to enter the building.
If that is the case, most work, Hewitt said, can be done with employees over the phone – much like they were doing before the building reopened – instead of risking getting someone else sick.
More about Holcomb’s plan and what can open as a part of Stage 3 can be found at backontrack.in.gov.