Mayor Steve Noble declared a state of emergency in Kingston on Friday, March 13 in response to the spread of novel coronavirus. The declaration calls for cutbacks in some city services, limited public access to City Hall and the closure of recreation centers and other programming.
Noble’s announcement came immediately after County Executive Pat Ryan announced a two-week shutdown for all Ulster County schools. In a press release, Noble outlined changes in city government operations. They include:
- Restrictions on work related travel for city employees including the cancellation of all conferences and workshops.
- Suspension of all parks and recreation programming
- Postponement of nonessential meetings. The Common Council will continue to meet, but all other city board and commission meetings will be cancelled
- The Everette Hodge and Rondout neighborhood centers will be closed for afterschool programming for the duration of the school shutdown
In addition, Noble said it was imperative that no large gatherings be held in the city. In accordance with state recommendations, restaurants and other businesses with capacity under 500 will be required to cut capacity by 50 percent. The new rule makes exceptions for grocery and retail stores, hospitals, public buildings and mass transit where people do not maintain close contact.
The public is also asked to stay away from city government facilities and whenever possible conduct business with city departments by phone or online. Offices of the City Clerk, Comptroller and Building Safety will remain open for in-person visits by special appointment only. Customers of the Kingston Water Department are asked to make bill payments and deliver water samples by means of the pneumatic tube located in front of the department’s offices adjacent to City Hall. The water department will also limit all service work to emergency calls to minimize home visits by department staff. Those seeking visits by city workers to their homes are asked to notify the city if anyone at the home is ill, so workers can take proper precautions.