(City of Merced press release)
The City of Merced is closing City Hall and other City offices to the public at 5 p.m. today due to the coronavirus outbreak.
This will not affect the delivery of essential services including police, fire, refuse, sewer and water.
The closures will be evaluated on a weekly basis as part of the City’s declared local emergency.
City government will continue to function without direct public contact. People can continue to call, email, fax and conduct their City business online. There may be a delay in getting a response due to the changes.
“At this time we feel it best to take these measures to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus,” said Mayor Mike Murphy. “We have heard from the President and the Governor that it is important to limit public contact and to reduce the size of public gatherings. We are trying to do our part during this public health emergency.”
“City Hall will continue to function, just in a different capacity,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “We will deliver services, just in a way that is safe for the public and for our employees.”
In addition to the City Hall closure there will be no public access to any City facility including the Fire Department, the Park and Recreation Office, the Public Works Department, Police Station, or Welcome Center. The City has stopped renting its facilities during the emergency. Only passengers with tickets will be allowed in the Merced Regional Airport. Park restrooms and the Bulky Item Drop Off Site are also closed.
The City Hall closure means people won’t be able to pay their utility bills or make other payments in person, said Finance Officer Venus Rodriguez.
“There are a number of other options that maintain safety for our customers and staff,” Rodriguez said.
Customers can make payments:
- By using the automated phone system at 209-388-7289
- Paying online at www.cityofmerced.org
- Using the drop box outside City Hall (check, cashier’s check or money order, no cash, please)
- Mailing payments (check, cashier’s check or money order, no cash, please)
Questions about utility bills can be emailed to [email protected] or people can phone 209-385-6841.
“We will not be charging people late fees and no new water services will be shut off if people cannot make their payments during this emergency,” Rodriguez said. “However, they still will ultimately be responsible for their bills.”
After 5 p.m. Friday, the City will be adjusting its staffing in order to comply with the federal and state guidelines regarding social distancing.
Carrigan said many employees will start working remotely or on staggered shifts at City Hall each day.
“People may notice a variation in service, but there will be no change in the essential operations of the City,” Carrigan said.
The City declared a local emergency Friday, along with Merced County, due to the spread of the coronavirus. As of Monday, no active cases of the disease have been found in the county, but it has been reported in surrounding counties.
A number of City board and commission meetings have been cancelled in Merced. City-sponsored activities have been cancelled or postponed.
All schools in Merced County are closing as of Thursday, March 19, and in the Bay Area shelter-in-place orders have been issued for San Francisco and a number of other counties.