Griffith City Council has voted to immediately close a number of facilities for at least 14 days and cut down on meetings of council as they move to reduce the potential impact of coronavirus.
The decision was made during Tuesday night's council meeting, which was held in the Burley Griffin Room in the Griffith Regional Theatre to allow for proper social distancing measures to be employed.
Griffith mayor John Dal Broi introduced the motion in the first of three mayoral minutes put before council, with the original recommendation in the minute to close a number of council facilities for a minimum period of 14 days should one case of COVID-19 be confirmed within the Griffith Local Government Area, before the status of the facilities would be reconsidered at a meeting of council.
The facilities earmarked for closure include the Griffith City Library, the Griffith Regional Art Gallery, the Pioneer Park Museum, the Visitor's Centre and the Senior Citizen's centre, along with the shuttering of all committee and working group meetings.
The list also included West End Stadium and the Griffith Regional Aquatic Leisure Centre, which had already been closed prior to the meeting.
However, Councillor Dal Broi suggested another option specified in the minute be adopted, with the third option - which would see the facilities immediately shut - the one put forward by Cr Dal Broi.
"It's come a fair way since Mr Stonestreet briefed us at the workshop," Cr Dal Broi said.
Councillor Dino Zappacosta said due to the clause specifying reconsideration of facilities operating status needs to be done at a council meeting, if a later mayoral minute due to come before council - one which would cut out the council meeting on the second Tuesday of each month - the earliest facilities could be reopened would be in a month.
Council's general manager Brett Stonestreet clarified council has provisions which allows for extraordinary meetings to be called by either the mayor or two councillors but expressed doubt the facilities would need to be reopened in the time before the next council meeting.
"All indications from the health experts at the federal and state level indicate that the COVID-19 virus will have a presence of some description with our communities for several months," Mr Stonestreet said.
"I think it highly unlikely that council would be inclined - at least in the early month to six weeks to two months - to even consider reopening facilities, but of course that's a matter for councillors to consider."
Cr Dal Broi said the minimum 14 day period allows for flexibility.
"If a miracle happens and everything's fine we call a special meeting," Cr Dal Broi said.
"If not they'll continue to be closed until next council meeting."
Councillor Christine Stead inquired as to what will be done with the staff who work at the facilities due to be shut and whether they will be forced to take annual or sick leave from the closing date, but Mr Stonestreet said staff will continue to be paid as normal in the initial phase, with some staff also able to transition into working from home.
"It is a moving issue at the moment," Mr Stonestreet said.
"There will be a time where staff reach the point - and it wouldn't be too far into the distant future - where gainful employment in that facility wouldn't be possible and therefore we would explore alternative duties for those staff.
"But there may be a point reached where staff would have to revert to leave provisions."
Cr Zappacosta inquired whether the minimum period of closure could be extended through the Easter period, with Mr Stonestreet clarifying the closure would remain in place until council voted otherwise.
"If option 3 was adopted, all of those facilities would be immediately closed for at least 14 days," Mr Stonestreet said.
"Council will only consider them being reopened or not at a subsequent council meeting ... they would remain closed until such time council meets to reconsider.
"It doesn't actually put an end date within that option."
Deputy mayor Doug Curran said it is important the community knows the 14 days closure is a bare minimum, with the closure expected to be longer than the two week window.
"It will probably be longer than that," Councillor Curran said.
"We don't want the community going in 14 days and knocking at the door ... that's the absolute minimum, we probably expect it to be a month."
Cr Dal Broi said he recognised the situation was severe, but "drastic times requires us to take drastic action."
Council also voted to cut down the amount of ordinary meetings held by the council in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Tuesday's meeting, with the meeting held on the second Tuesday of each month deleted from the schedule for the rest of the 2020 calendar year.
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