City Hall will return with a limited opening and many restrictions on Monday, June 1, according to City Manager Tom Ambrosino.
Ambrosino has said for weeks his aspirational goal has been to open the Hall on June 1, and on Wednesday he announced the news to the Record.
“We are re-opening on a limited basis on June 1,” he said. “It’s limited to the general public. Most offices will require an appointment. The only offices open to the general public will be the City Clerk and Treasurer for payment of bills. We are also going to try to limit the size lines by having people be able to come according to their street. Occupancy will be limited and we’ll probably let 10 members of the general public in at one time.”
The restrictions will also include wearing a mask – that going for employees and the public. There will also be social distancing, hand washing and there has been additional build-out in the Hall to keep people safe.
Already, the City Clerk and Treasurer have protective glass in place, but other offices have had them installed. A limited workforce will be in place so that they can keep social distancing in the offices.
City Hall will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting June 1, with exceptions for Tuesdays and Fridays.
“I have mixed feelings,” said Ambrosino. “I’m hoping to try to get back to some semblance of normal business, but I’m sure there will be fits and starts as we work this through. I don’t expect perfection on day one so people shouldn’t expect that either.”
•Openings for Barbers, Salons, Churches
Ambrosino said several barber shops and salons have re-opened in Chelsea as of Monday, and so far it has gone pretty well.
“So far we haven’t received any complaints,” he said. “I know the Houses of Worship are preparing slowly. We’ll be keeping an eye on our numbers to identify any upticks.”
Ambrosino has been worried about several churches that are re-opening this weekend, including St. Rose Church. With 40 percent capacity, that still amounts to a lot of people. He said he has been working with them proactively.
“I am concerned about any House of Worship that could have large numbers of people in an interior space,” he said. “We will encourage them to have outdoor services if possible.”
•Downtown Needs Help, Phase 2 June 8
The downtown is going to need some help, Ambrosino said, as its vibrancy and momentum is in jeopardy of being stalled due to the pandemic.
“We have a downtown that is certainly in jeopardy,” he said. “I think we need to take some steps to help the downtown,” he said. “We may have to ease up some of our development requirements potentially in the downtown…We have to think of some things we might not have wanted to think about last year. Our downtown is vulnerable and we may need to have some government action.”
He said he is particularly worried about restaurants and small businesses, thinking they may need to use the sidewalks and allow alcohol service outside – maybe change the zoning on the parking restrictions.
He said the Council’s Small Business Task Force would be key in discussing those changes and also in awarding grants to highly-affected businesses.
Ambrosino said he believes that many retail stores in Chelsea are likely ready for the Phase 2 opening on June 8 – provided things maintain. “Retail doesn’t concern me as much and I’m surprised it wasn’t allowed in Phase 1,” he said. “What does scare me is the public areas in Phase 2. It would worry me to have crowds of people in a Kiddie Park. We might go slow there as a city.”