City declares local state of emergency

By: 
Register Staff
Staff Writer

Bishop Mayor Laura Smith on Tuesday declared a local state of emergency for the city of Bishop and “we are announcing a major shift in our city’s operations as we continue to address the novel coronavirus (COVID19) public health crisis. The local emergency is now in effect.
Pursuant to state and federal guidelines, the city is taking action on behalf of the health and benefit of the public and residents in Bishop, Smith stated. The proclamation of a local emergency does not signify an increased risk to the residents of Bishop. A proclamation of a local emergency allows the city to provide or receive mutual aid from other jurisdictions and assists in securing available resources, mutual aid, funding, and staffing.
“The city of Bishop is taking bold and proactive steps to protect the health and safety of our community,” Smith stated. “The proclamation should not be considered a reason for increased concern, rather an important step in our city’s mission to reduce the risk of exposure. I urge community members to stay informed, follow the directives of public health officials, stay home if you are sick, and continue practicing appropriate social distancing, hand washing and use of disinfectants.

City facilities, services
Many city facilities are closed effective Tuesday until further notice. The closures are intended to help “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the outbreak.
Essential city services will continue as usual, including police, fire, water, wastewater, planning, inspection, and permitting services (planning and permitting by telephone, online and/or appointment only).
Starting Tuesday, many city programs and public meetings will be canceled until further notice. City Hall will be temporarily closed and the public is strongly encouraged to take care of any necessary city business by telephone, email, or through the city’s website at: www.cityofbishop.com. The city telephone number is (760) 873-5863. The city email address is cityclerk@cityofbishop.com.
“We need to take serious actions now to suppress any spread of COVID-19, and that is going to include limiting access to City Hall and temporarily closing public facilities,” Smith stated. “Beginning immediately, we are transitioning to online and telephone services as much as possible to ensure the safety of the public and our city employees.”
The city also will be returning or crediting city program fees or other city fees for canceled activities and events at city facilities or at the schools.

Operational changes
The operational changes are as follows:
City Hall and 0ther city facilities
• City Hall will be closed to the public except by appointment. People are encouraged to contact City Hall by phone or email and the city will make reasonable resources available to conduct essential city business remotely.
• Essential city services will continue, but in-person services at City Hall will be very limited until further notice.
• City Hall will transition primarily to online services; residents and businesses are encouraged to use online public services as much as possible.
• In addition to online services, the city will accommodate the lack of in-person services by staffing phone lines.

Parks
• Parks buildings will be closed to the public until further notice.
• All recreation programs, classes , permits and reservations are canceled until further notice.
• All youth and adult sporting activities are suspended until further notice.
• City Park and trails, including public restrooms, will remain accessible to the public and their maintenance and upkeep will continue subject to closure or modification if deemed necessary. Public restroom sanitizing has been increased to twice a day and will be increased further if appropriate.

City services
• All services ordinarily requiring in-person visits or public service counter assistance (including licensing and building permits) will be limited and made available via phone, online or through email. Building permits may be applied for online.
• Building inspection services will continue. If you have building or development plans to deliver to the Building or Planning departments, please do so by email or a drop box, or call to make an appointment.
• The city encourages everyone to call (760) 873-5866, ext. 2, for non-emergency police assistance and for general information and questions regarding filing police reports.
• The Bishop Fire Department headquarters, fire stations and training facility are closed to the public. Routine inquiries should be made by phone at (760) 8735485.
– Prior issued burn permits will be extended thus reducing the need for in-person visits to the fire department
• All Public Works services will remain in place. Public Works emphasizes that, based upon the information made available to the city at this point, drinking water is not a known source of coronavirus, and residents can continue to drink water from their taps. Again, routine inquiries to the Public Works and Building departments should be made by phone at (760) 873-8458.

City meetings
• Next week’s Bishop City Council meeting on March 23 will take place and will be streamed live as always. The city council will accept public comment by means of email at PublicComment@CityofBishop.com from the start of the scheduled meeting to the end of the scheduled meeting.
• Commission meetings will be suspended until further notice.
• The Council Chambers will be open to members of the public (with certain limitations imposed for social distancing guidelines) for comment with limited seating available, but Public Health and city officials encourage electronic public comments be submitted prior to or during the scheduled meeting. For those who do attend the meeting, the city will be adhering to social distance best practices in place at the time of the meeting.
• The city is actively coordinating with all public and medical agencies regarding best practices in dealing with this issue. In collaboration with federal and state agencies, the Inyo County Department of Public Health is the lead agency managing response to local novel coronavirus testing, investigations, coordination with health care providers, and public information. Learn more and stay informed at www.inyocounty.us.

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