WESTLOCK — With new phased reopening measures announced by the provincial government, Westlock-area municipalities will be making their offices available to the public starting June 10.
In the Town of Westlock, the town hall and the Westlock & District Family and Community Support Services will be open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and closed for lunch from noon until 1 p.m.
Westlock County’s office, also located in town, will be open half an hour earlier, at 8 a.m., and will also close for noon.
Both municipalities say visitors must wear masks and be physically distanced. The county is also asking visitors to wash or sanitize their hands and to complete a wellness check-in.
In order to limit visitors to the office, the county is also asking residents to make payments electronically.
“I do want to go back to our regular level of service, i.e. walk-in kind of appointments for development services for example,” said town CAO Simone Wiley.
“So those staff need to be in the building to provide that level of service. So there will be more staff in the building who operationally need to be there. We will be allowing and encouraging any staff who have the ability to work from home to do that.”
Some county staff will also continue working from home, and admin is asking for patience. “All forms of abuse are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” the county wrote in a June 4 press release announcing the reopening.
Phase 2 of the reopening plan, which the province says will start on Thursday, comes into effect two weeks after 60 percent of Albertans aged 12 and up have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and hospitalizations are below 500 and declining.
In-person council meetings?
There is no definitive word yet on whether or not council meetings will be moving in-person any time soon.
Town councillors will discuss the possibility at an upcoming meeting — the next one is scheduled for June 14.
“It’s all about the rules,” said mayor Ralph Leriger. “Our council chambers were well prepared for safety and now that the bathrooms are finished (at the Heritage Building) and as soon as the rules will allow us to, I'm up to going back for sure.”
The Heritage Building has been undergoing renovations since February and FCSS will be moving offices to by the end of June.
The county’s communications specialist Adrienne Finnegan said they won’t be looking at in-person meetings until Phase 3 of the reopening plan.
The provincial government expects that will happen in late June or early July. The benchmark for the final phase of the latest reopening plan is two weeks after 70 per cent of Albertans aged 12 and up have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.