Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller declared a state of emergency late Tuesday night as city officials are being forced to respond to a rapidly changing situation during the global coronavirus outbreak.
The declaration will allow the city to be more nimble with making decisions and with receiving reimbursements from federal and state governments, Fuller said in a statement.
The emergency declaration comes after the closure of City Hall and other municipal buildings to the public, schools, and orders for people to avoid personal contact -- all measures intended to slow the coronavirus’s spread.
Fuller said there is a stark human impact from the “new reality” people find themselves in: Workplace closings mean no paycheck; kids’ connections with teachers, friends, and counselors are disrupted.
“Familiar ways to get together are on hold. We can’t, for now, gather together to sing, to play, to listen to music, or to have a simple communal meal in the school cafeteria, the Senior Center, or at a local restaurant with friends or family,” Fuller said in the statement. “Each day, as we take unprecedented but necessary steps to protect the health and safety of our neighbors and our employees to slow the spread of COVID-19, I know the consequences are being felt by all of us.”
Fuller said the city remains open for business: Online technologies allow residents to contact city offices, and she pledged to release more information about “new ways to get ‘the people’s business’ done” in an update Wednesday.
She asked residents to check in with anyone who is frail or vulnerable -- particularly people who may be isolated.
“It’s also time to think about how we can help our friends and family who are facing health issues for whom this time could present extra challenges for them,” Fuller said.
John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.