MILTON, Ga. ⁠— City staff have created and are starting to implement a phased plan for reopening Milton facilities and services after more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Milton City Council voted unanimously May 18 on an executive order that includes the phased reopening plan.

The order amends the previous emergency ordinance to reflect changing conditions and will be effective through June 12, the same as Georgia’s State of Emergency.

For the most part, the emergency ordinance remains the same, but one of the biggest changes comes from Section 6, which previously shut down public hearings and regulatory meetings.

“We will be attempting to rev back up the engine of government in Milton,” said City Attorney Ken Jarrard. “We are attempting to go ahead and resume some effort at normalcy with respect with how we begin to legislate, how we begin to take administrative or regulatory action.”

The ordinance also allows city staff to work on alternative arrangements for citizens to be able to engage with their City Council even if they are not physically at meetings once in-person meetings resume. An alternative idea, for example, may include allowing citizens to email public comments.

The reopening plan outlined in the emergency ordinance contains four phases that are based on federal reopening plans by the White House, current CDC guidelines, Georgia Department of Public Health requirements and Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive orders.

The plans include continued deep cleaning of public facilities and equipment for the foreseeable future as well as continued workforce monitoring, including regular temperature checks.

Phase One, which is now in effect, calls for continued use of remote city services, teleworking when practical and limited gatherings of city employees. It outlines plans to reopen park activities as well as resuming City Council, board and committee meetings.

Phase Two is tentatively slated to begin June 13, after the city’s emergency ordinance and Georgia’s public health state of emergency expires. There must be evidence of a downward trajectory in COVID-19 cases and no evidence of a rebound from Phase One before the second phase can begin, said Deputy Fire Chief of Administration Matt Marietta.

Phase Two would increase in-person activity at City Hall and would require appointments for meetings between staff and the public. Core facilities would remain closed to the public, but access to park and recreation facilities would increase. Any meetings between staff would be kept small with social distancing in place.

There are no estimated dates for beginning Phase Three yet, however, like the second phase of openings, it would require no evidence of a pandemic rebound from the previous phase. Phase Three would resume events, normal operations at City Hall and reopen core facilities to the public, all with enhanced cleaning efforts in effect.

Milton has also included plans for a Phase Four, which the federal plan does not yet anticipate. Phase Four would begin when conditions allowed for the city to essentially “go back to normal” once the COVID-19 pandemic has been resolved, Marietta said.

For more information and the latest updates on closures and reopenings, visit cityofmiltonga.us/coronavirus.

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