Town Manager Orders Construction Halted in Watertown, Town Starts COVID-19 Info Line

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Watertown residents can call a local info line to ask questions about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and also announced an end to construction in town beginning Wednesday.

The moves came after Gov. Baker’s order on Monday morning that all non-essential businesses would be closed starting Tuesday due to the Coronavirus outbreak, and a stay-at-home advisory for Massachusetts residents.

Construction must come to an end by 5 p.m. on March 25.

“The Governor’s order is clear that essential services are the only activities that should continue until 12:00 p.m. on April 7, 2020,” Driscoll said in the announcement.

The construction halt applies to all projects, whether private or by the Town, said Town Council President Mark Sideris. Hehas already received a call from someone in the construction business who was upset about the Town’s decision to stop construction.

“We are in uncharted waters,” Sideris said. “We are trying lessen the impact of the virus. We are not going to make everyone happy.”

The ban also means that road projects, such as filling pot holes, will not be happening, he said.

Other communities nearby have taken similar steps, including Waltham and Cambridge, and Sideris said that Belmont is considering following suit.

Watertown Town Manager Michael Driscoll sent out the following statement on Monday afternoon:

Earlier today , Governor Baker issued an Order requiring all businesses and other organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” close their physical workplace and facilities to workers, customers and the public as of 12:00 noon tomorrow and shall not reopen to workers, customers and the public before 12:00 noon on April 7, 2020 (Exhibit A – Identifies COVID-19 Essential Services).

Additionally, attached please find an abbreviated summary of the Order.

As a follow-up and in an effort to balance the ability to continue to provide important services and to protect the health and safety of the residents of Watertown, the Town is moving forward with additional measures and providing the following updates:

Watertown COVID-19 Informational Call Center and Email

For general COVID-19 questions not specific to the Town of Watertown, all Massachusetts residents are encouraged to call the State’s 2-1-1 Hotline that is staffed by operators 24/7 and with translators available in multiple languages. Residents with questions can dial 2-1-1 from any landline or cell phone or use the live chat option on the Mass 2-1-1 website (mass211.org).

The Town of Watertown has established a COVID-19 informational call center to allow residents and business owners to ask non-medical questions specific to COVID-19 in Watertown. The call center will be staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the number for the call center is # 617-972-6565 Questions can also be emailed to COVID19@police.watertown-ma.gov.

Please call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency.

Calls should not be made to 9-1-1 for questions regarding COVID-19.

Four (4) electronic sign boards will be placed around Town with the message: “Stay safe, stay home.”

Further message updates will be provided as needed.

Watertown Public Schools

The doors to the Watertown Public Schools may be closed until April 7, but our faculty and staff are hard at work providing online learning and enrichment opportunities for our students. Additionally, the WPS School Nutrition Department is averaging 50 lunches for daily distribution out of the high school. The WPS Technology Department is ensuring that all WPS families have technology and access in order that our students will be able to continue moving with their learning. If interested, please visit our website, www.watertown.k12.ma.us, for more information about our remote learning resources.

Watertown Food Pantry

The Watertown Food Pantry continues to be open Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at 80 Mount Auburn Street. Donations can be dropped off during that time too. Please call the Senior Center at 617-972-6490 for more information.

Construction Activity

Consistent with the Governor’s Order: COVID-19 Essential Services, the Town is suspending all construction activity effective 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday March 25, 2020, other than work which is being done in response to emergency situations. The Governor’s order is clear that essential services are the only activities that should continue until 12:00 p.m. on April 7, 2020. If there are questions regarding whether work is an emergency situation or not within the public right-of-way, the Department of Public Works (617-972-6420; dpwdept@watertown-ma.gov) will make that determination. The Town’s Building Inspector, Peter McLaughlin (617-972-6480; pmclaughlin@watertown-ma.gov) will make the determination regarding emergency situations in all other matters.

Emergency Management Team

The Town of Watertown Emergency Management Team is meeting daily to monitor the developments in the outbreak of the coronavirus. We have used these meetings to keep an organized flow of information and to develop strategies to best respond to the needs of our community. We will continue to update the community through the Watertown Health Department’s web page. https://www.watertown-ma.gov/965/CORONAVIRUS.

We also recommend the following resources:

Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Resource Page: https://www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus

Center for Disease Control COVID-19 information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

March 13th Town Manager’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement

March 16th Town Manager’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement

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