OLD LYME — The Board of Selectmen on Monday authorized First Selectman Timothy Griswold to declare a local state of emergency and said they plan soon to restrict most public access to Town Hall in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
“The idea is to restrict as much as possible public interaction because that’s how this thing spreads,” Griswold said at the meeting. “We want to keep the doors open for business, so to speak, but not just have the public coming in the way they have.”
Old Lyme Director of Emergency Management David Roberge will meet with Griswold tomorrow to come up with a more detailed response. Selectman Chris Kerr suggested that Town Hall should close as early as 4 p.m. Tuesday. Roberge had initially suggested closing it by noon on Wednesday.
Roberge said that giving the public an extra day’s notice that Town Hall would close will give them the chance to do any last-minute business.
Several other southeastern and shoreline towns have already placed similar restrictions on public access to their town halls. Like many of those other towns, Griswold and Roberge said that Old Lyme could continue to offer town services remotely, by appointment, or potentially through a specialized kiosk in one part of the building.
Griswold said that many non-essential board and commission meetings could be delayed for up to two months. Town staff were exploring options to have video conferences for other town meetings, Griswold said.
“Short of that, you can have a simple conference call but it has to be accessible to the public,” he said.
In Old Lyme, the regional Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, and the Lymes’ Senior Center have already closed their doors in response to the coronavirus.
State Rep. Devin Carney (R -Old Lyme), who spoke at the meeting, advised local leaders to continue to follow Gov. Ned Lamont’s daily updates on the virus.
Effective 8 p.m. Monday, Lamont has ordered that all restaurants in the state would only be allowed to serve take-out and delivery. Lamont also ordered the closing of movie theaters, gyms, fitness centers, and bars that don’t serve foods.