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City Hall closes to public, emergency declared

The Winchester Board of Commissioners approved a number of changes for tahe coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, including closing Winchester City Hall and prohibiting out-of-state travel for city employees.

Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner signed an emergency declaration Tuesday for the city, which would open the door for reimbursements for virus-related expenses down the road, he said.

“In times past when we had emergencies … we had the opportunity to get people together in a room and plan,” Burtner said. “That’s not possible with this. We’re going to have to change things.

“At some point we’ll need to start tracking costs. This is an unusual situation.”

City Hall will be closed to the general public, though city staff will be working regular hours, City Manager Matt Belcher said.

In a memo, Belcher made a number of recommendations including canceling all out-of-state travel for employees until March 31.

He also suggested limiting government meetings for the next two weeks, and granting additional sick time for any employee who contracts COVID-19 in the line of duty.

“I’m encouraging those who can work from home to work from home,” Belcher said. “I understand. We all want our employees to follow those best practices.”

City government is not shutting down, Belcher said, and residents are welcome to call City Hall.

“We are still responding,” he said. “We will continue with that.”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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