The City of Ludington announced Monday afternoon that its city buildings, including the municipal building and senior center, will be closed starting at 8 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18 and will not reopen until 8 a.m., Monday, Dec. 7.
The reopening could be delayed further if the recent emergency orders by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are adjusted, the city noted in a press release. The decision was based on not only the emergency order, but also conversations with local health officials and local public safety officials.
“We have not had any further cases (of COVID-19) than what we went through a couple of weeks ago,” said Ludington City Manager Mitch Foster. “It’s basically on the emergency orders. We’re just trying to look out for the safety of the general public and also our staff. If we would have members of our staff (become infected), it would be a huge hit to our staff operations.”
Business with the city can be conducted via the mail, phone, the city’s night drop-box or online at the city’s website, www.ludington.mi.us. The dropbox, the city stated, will be processed continually. Foster said the coming days and weeks are big for the city because of the winter tax bill coming due.
“Normally, it would be big because of tax season. Now with the lobby closed, we will accept tax bills via the drop box. If we were to get a quarter of our taxpayers, that would be a significant amount of foot traffic into the building,” Foster said.
Staff will be available via phone at the city, the police department and the department of public works. Copies of bills and invoices can be mailed or emailed if needed by calling 231-845-6237.
Foster said the city’s staff would mostly be working in-person, except for some situations where employees could work remotely. He said the past experiences of the spring and summer have been helpful for the city.
“If we had to do fully remote or a platoon system, we could do that,” Foster said. “At this point, our goal is to keep staff working at the office except for a few that will be working remotely.”
Four public meetings were moved from in-person to being conducted via the video-conference application, Zoom: the Cemetery, Parks and Recreation meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17, the Finance and Personnel meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18, the Public Safety/Public Utilities meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19, and the planning commission on Wednesday, Dec. 2.
The city stated it would post login information for the meetings on its website.
The city also is halting all in-person activities scheduled for the Ludington Senior Center. The center will be posting information on its website for virtual fitness classes and other offerings. Ludington Senior Center Executive Director Vickie Collins said staff there will be available via the phone, including assisting those who are registering with Medicare Part D. Footcare will be continued via appointment, paralegal assistance will be over the phone and the medical equipment loan closet is available, too, Collins said.
“Even though our doors will be locked staff is here and able to assist. Appointments for any of our services must be accessed by phone,” she said.
When the senior center was closed previously, many activities were conducted via Zoom and Facebook, and those will again happen, Collins said. Yoga, Tai Chi, stretch and balance exercise classes will all go online, and she urges those who are interested to call the center so they can add them to the invitation list for those sessions.
“We are creating other virtual activities,” Collins said. “These steps are put into place to keep our seniors and community safe.”
Foster reiterated to the public that it should consider patronizing the local businesses in the city, whether it is through takeout food at the restaurants and bars or purchasing items from the retail businesses in the city and greater community.