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The Twin Falls City Council on Monday, March 23 approved the City Manager’s recommendation for a Declaration of Emergency for the City of Twin Falls.
The Declaration of Emergency will help the City streamline the purchase process; allow it to seek federal and state funds to help offset unexpected expenditures made in response to COVID19; and reduce the City’s liability when responding to COVID19.
Also, in support of efforts to protect customers and employees, the City of Twin Falls is implementing a soft-closure of all city facilities beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, March 23. All City facilities will be closed to walk-in traffic. The City will continue to monitor the situation and will reopen facilities as soon as possible.
The Declaration does not require citizens to shelter-in-place, nor does it mandate that businesses close their doors. Many businesses in Twin Falls have identified ways to reduce exposure to vulnerable populations, which includes: seniors-only hours, curbside pick-up and delivery, and limited hours.
Public services are still available on the City website at tfid.org or by calling and scheduling an appointment. Citizens are encouraged to contact City staff for assistance.
“Think of us as becoming more like a ‘takeout service’ that many of our restaurants, banks and commercial businesses have already adopted,” said Travis Rothweiler, Twin Falls City Manager. “We will still continue to offer our services, but they will look and feel different until we can resume normal operations. In those rare instances where we are unable to service our customers needs through electronic means, we will be available on an appointment basis for face-to-face interactions.”
For more than two weeks, City leadership has been learning about COVID-19 and how it’s expected to impact the community and local government. The City has been taking a metered approach to it’s response, which includes the following:
• Ensuring that city staff have the tools and resources needed to perform their critical roles and functions to protect citizen’s health and safety.
• Working with community partners to share information and resources, and to constantly review up-to-date information to make decisions regarding closures and levels of service. This includes: Twin Falls School District, Twin Falls Public Library, College of Southern Idaho, South Central Public Health District, St. Luke’s Magic Valley, Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office, Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, and more.
• Working with Special Event Permit holders to inform them about recommendations by the Governor’s Office and Centers for Disease Control.
• Moving items on city council agendas to ensure that the City does not host a gathering. Currently there is no public hearing scheduled until April 14; no new hearings will be scheduled at this time.
• Providing online access to City meetings – both live and recorded. The City will provide clear instructions on how to access public meetings via the City website at tfid.org
• Temporarily suspending all Police and Fire Station Department building tours. All tours of city facilities will be suspended until further notice.
• Asking front-line City employees to limit unnecessary direct contact with public. For those departments with a high level of public interaction, they will increase exposure education, discuss ways in which exposure can be reduced and to change ways of doing business to limit interaction with public. We do not intend to lessen service delivery, only modify where we can.
• Closing facilities that have a greater risk of public exposure, which includes the city pool, library and Utility Billing Office. And suspending many indoor recreation programs that create a greater risk of exposure.
The City Council expressed its appreciation to citizens who are following guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control to slow the spread of the virus. And they hope that the Declaration of Emergency will communicate the importance of remaining vigilant to protect seniors and other vulnerable populations in the community.
Like many City’s in the United States prior to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the City of Twin Falls does not have an ordinance mandating process and procedures during a pandemic. The Twin Falls City Council asked the City Manager on Monday to move forward with the creation of an ordinance, which could implement further restrictions for the public and businesses to help slow the spread of the virus. Currently, only Governor Little, or his designee, has the authority to modify how private businesses operate.
• Practice social distancing: avoid crowds, maintain at least 6 feet from others when possible
• Decrease time in group settings when possible
• Limit unnecessary travel
• Consider postponing or canceling out of town vacations and travel out of state
• Use drive through and delivery services for everyday errands where possible
• Persons at increased risk of severe illness should consider sheltering in place
• Only leave your home for “essential activities,” to work for an “essential business,” or for “essential travel.” Do not host or attend any gatherings
• Persons with recent travel to an area having widespread community transmission or a shelter in place order should shelter in place at home until 14 days after return.
• Create a plan for how to safely care for a household member if they become ill