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The city announced today it is indefinitely closing recreation facilities due to COVID-19.

The city had originally looked at reopening the facilities Monday.

Effective immediately, the following list of Roanoke Rapids Department of Parks and Recreation facilities — including programs and special events — will be closed to the general public until further notice:

Roanoke Rapids Public Library

T.J.  Davis Recreation Center

J.A. Chaloner Recreation Center

Jo Story Senior Center for Active Adults 

The Aquatic Center

Roanoke Canal Museum 

Kirkwood Adams Community Center

Lloyd Andrews Building (programs–only)

“The city of Roanoke Rapids is continuing to take extra precautions to plan and prepare for the possibility of community-level outbreak of COVID-19,” the department said in a statement. “The city administration is taking steps both internally and externally to do what we can to minimize the risk for everyone by assessing locations of non-critical group gatherings and events.”

For youth athletic organizations, the city encourages parents to communicate with sanctioned governing bodies and follow their guidance.

For information and questions about specific facilities, programs, and events, call the department at 252-533-2847.

City manager’s report

Meanwhile, in his report to council Tuesday night, City Manager Joseph Scherer said, “The focus of all city administration departments is on the goal of minimizing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus among both our employees and the general public.”

He said all public restrooms are closed at outdoor parks and fields. “We may close these outdoor activity facilities as well if any activities do not meet federal, CDC or state guidelines on how many people can be in one place. As of today, per state guidelines, any meetings of over 100 persons will be disbanded by the police. The police will enforce all other state directives regarding this crisis.”

Scherer said the city requests the public “try to conduct their business with the city via telephone or the internet whenever possible instead of in person. We also ask that alternate appointment dates be considered after the crisis has passed.”

For now, the city is keeping its administrative offices open the same days and hours while maintaining the cleanliness of the public window areas or putting up additional screenings.

The fire department has restricted public access to both stations and notary public services will not be offered by city officials until further notice.

Scherer said all non-essential travel outside the city is banned. Social distancing practices are being done in all departments. “Telework options for employees are being considered where available. Security of on-hand supplies such as (toilet paper) and hand sanitizers is being increased.”

Due to closures, some part-time parks and recreation employees have been laid off for now.

“We continue to monitor the ongoing developments of the virus spread and strategies for its transmission minimization. We realize the seriousness of this situation and will support actions by our local educational and healthcare agencies to try to keep Roanoke Rapids as safe as possible.”