An update of the Town of Virden’s staffing operations through the current COVID-19 crisis suggests all community services are running as they should with safety precautions taken for employees in each department.
On March 20, Premier Brain Pallister announced that Manitoba was under a State of Emergency due to the pandemic. The order is in effect for 30 days.
At their regular meeting held by video teleconference Tuesday afternoon, Virden Chief Administrative Officer Rhonda Stewart presented councilors with a synopsis of the town’s response to recent social distancing and self-isolation instructions. Administrators have been in regular contact with municipal service officers from Manitoba’s Municipal Relations department, who make recommendations, provide updates on the COVID-19 situation and answer any questions communities may have.
“That has been very helpful and reassuring to us as CAOs knowing that we do have support from our provincial department and they’re doing the best to get answers back to us as quickly as possible,” Stewart told councilors. “They – like everyone else, though – don’t have all the answers.”
The provincial State of Emergency order placed the entire province in quasi-quarantine that has closed non-essential businesses and services for 30 days. Municipal operations are essential and continue to operate, but with precautions to contain the spread the virus from employee to employee. Stewart noted that the situation has had no impact on municipal services in Virden yet.
The town is still fully staffed, but employees have been broken down into two-person work teams who must maintain social distancing practices. Although facilities like Tundra Oil & Gas Place have been shuttered, Stewart said there was still clean up and maintenance activities that could be completed by staff.
The town’s office, public works, water and sewer and landfill operations have not changed as of this week. Each department has set up a scheduling system to maintain safety standards through the next month or longer. Water and sewer operators may be shared with neighboring municipalities should the need arrive, and the landfill has been deemed an essential service. It’s hours of operation remain the same.
More discussion about the COVID-19 issue as it pertains to municipal operations was placed on the agenda for the in-camera portion of the meeting.
“Our primary goal is to keep our staff healthy and being able to actually tend to their work providing the essential services to our community,” said Stewart.